A peek into our collections, one object at a time

Seeing Red

July 6, 2021

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Red jellyfish
Voragonema pedunculata, photo by Karen Osborn, Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History

Red light doesn’t penetrate into the deep ocean, so animals with red pigmentation have no visible light to reflect and are nicely camouflaged. The blood-red guts of this jellyfish, Voragonema pedunculata, may use this camouflage technique to block out the light produced by the bioluminescent prey it accumulates in its stomach while scavenging the deep. That way it doesn’t get easily marked as prey itself.

See more bioluminescent animals in this photo gallery and video from the Ocean Portal at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.