Colors of Sea Life Match the Layer of Ocean in Which they Live, and the Light Spectrum that Reaches It

In a curious way, the colors of marine animals tend to be related to the zone in which they live. Fishes of the surface waters, like the mackerel and herring often are blue or green; so are the floats of the Portuguese men-of-war and the azure-tinted wings of teh swimming snales. Down below the diatom meadows and drifting sargassum weed, where teh water becomes ever more deeply, brilliantly blue, many creatures are crystal clear. Their glassy, ghostly forms blend with their surroundings and make it easier for them to elude the ever-present, ever-hungry enemy. Such are the transparent hordes of the arrowworms or glassworms, the comb jellies, and larvae of many fishes.

At a thousand feet, and on down to the very end of the sun's rays, silvery fishes are common, and many others are red, drab brown, or black. Pteropods are dark violet. Arrowworms, whose relatives in the upper layers are colorless, are here a deep red. Jellyfish medusae, which above would be transparent, at a depth of 1000 feet are deep brow.

At depths greater than 1500 feet, all the fishes are black, deep violet, or brown, but the prawns wear amazing hues of red, scarlet, and purple. Why, no one can say. Since all the red rays are strained out of the water far above this depth, the scarlet raiment of these creatures can only look black to their neighbors.


Animals like shrimp and lobster are colored red, but live at depths where red light cannot reach, so they appear black. Why?

Folksonomies: nature

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Color wheel (0.583609): dbpedia | freebase
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Cnidaria (0.537382): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 The Sea Around Us
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Carson, Rachel L. (1951), The Sea Around Us, Oxford University Press, New York, Retrieved on 2010-11-30
Folksonomies: nature