As Flashy As A Sea Sapphire

Samuel Reason | February 23rd, 2018

Growing up any kid would like to be able to control color on demand. Explode into different shades of light and cause your very own firework show. There is actually a creature that is able to flash up brightly and then completely disappear, on the fly. These ant size creatures live in subtropical or warm tropical seas, aptly called Sea Sapphires.

deepseanews.com

They are a form of marine planktonic copepod: a scientific word that basically means “a very small floating shrimpy thing that you find in the sea.” But the incredible thing is these little beasties can produce ranges of brilliant vivid colors. Depending on the species you can find intense blues to reds and even golds.

So how do they do it? Are these little creatures radioactive?

No, not at all. To put it simply their skin has amazing properties that allow light to be reflected, allowing them to light up. Otherwise, they are pretty much completely transparent. This is a kind of camouflage technique they use to be hard to catch by predators. It depends on the angle the light hits them: one moment they may shimmer and the next poof they have disappeared into the deep dark sea. What are these amazing skin properties you ask?

Very little crystal plates are found all over their skin cells and form a honeycomb pattern. So they really are just little live sapphires floating merrily around the sea. Similar sort of skin systems is found on chameleons and silver spiders also. All masters of cloaking themselves to their surroundings, it seems the sea sapphire has simply been able to take this trait into the sea. It is not all about camouflage though, scientists also believe that the colors they display help them find mating partners.

When a male sea sapphire is actively looking to mate, they swim in spirals displaying a sort of full-on light show to the female. Is the light actually some sort of signaling language that they understand? Whatever the case, we can definitely agree they put on a beautiful show.

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