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Disco Clam Light Display

Aquatic oceanic environments are one of the last great frontiers in biological research. Virtually nothing is known about most species that live underwater. One of these species is the disco clam, Ctenoides ales which resides in ocean environments as deep as 20m, often in crevices, where ambient light is dim and restricted. Despite this, disco clams have a unique “flashing display” where a bright blue light flashes across the mantle of the clam. This display has captured SCUBA divers’ imagination for decades and is bizarre because the clams live in environments that should preclude bright visual displays. Using a combination of innovative techniques including hyperspectral imaging, high speed videography, and particle modeling, Lindsey Dougherty, a researcher with UC Berkeley’s Dept. of Integrative Biology, is investigating the mechanisms that allow this animal to produce this amazing display.

To read an interview with Dougherty on her use of the SOC710-VP, check out our news post.