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Joel "Mooch" Lotilla

Thank you Kirk!

Who needs Tom Steinstra when we have you!!!!

Joel "Mooch" Lotilla

Thanks Kirk! Good stuff as usual! Who needs Tom Steinstra when we have you!!!!

Northern Boy

Wait.... photophores........can you head down to the rock-strewn shoreline along the south side of __________ long after sunset and catch glow-in-the-dark midshipmen?


The photophores only light up when the little buggers have been eating a specific type of krill... I imagine only at extreme depths too...

Northern Boy

It sounds like, once they're luminescent, they stay luminescent for a long time (months-years). Then once they begin to fade their luminescence can be restored by feeding them juvenile members of their own species.


However, perhaps most excitingly, luminescence can be stimulated by the addition of high concentrations of cyanide.


If I ever fulfil my dream of running a dedicated drinking establishment (no food please), I will equip it with a saltwater aquarium full of luminescent, humming Plain Midshipmen. A buck to buy a juvenile to feed the tank, two bucks for a shot of cyanide.


The midshipman's luminescence may result from ingesting cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that contain phycobilins, light-capturing molecules which assist the algae with photosynthesis.

Phycobilins absorb red, orange, yellow, and green light wavelengths that are not well absorbed by chlorophyll. The color of the phycobilin usually depends upon the depth at which the algae live. Yellows & reds are found closer to the surface; while green phycobilins occur in deeper water.

Phycobilins fluoresce at particular wavelengths, so they are used in pharmaceutical research as chemical tags. The fluorescent dyes derived from algae are chemically bound to antibodies in a technique known as immunofluorescence. The tagged antibodies or antigens are read by spectrophotometers. The data supposedly measures the efficacy of pharmaceuticals.

Those fluorescent dyes derived from algae look great under black light (UV). A decade ago, a few companies were trying to market ingestible fluorescent dyes that could be added to mixed drinks for consumption in nightclubs or bars equipped with black lights.

I wondered whether I could make some sort of bait incorporating fluorescent dyes, but my employer would probably take the patent rights away from me. So, mamas, don't let your kids work in biotechnology -- unless they own the company!


Dude... that was way cool. Thanks for the inside scoop on phycobilins! Whoa!

Scott Parker

Another great post! Love learning more about these kinds of fish than just how to hook them or how to forage them! It's fascinating some of the travails some of these overlooked guys go through!


Thanks Fontenelle. I think I sucked down a phycolilin or two at a college party in 1974.

My eyes are still blue.

FYI all:

1) Midshipmen have long been a favored striped bass bait.

2) And leopard sharks, bled properly and brined overnight, are one of the best eating fish in the ocean. Unfortunately, those taken from SF Bay...

Put it this way: with experience, you can tuck one of their pectoral fins under your tongue--carefully--and tell by the color of its beady eyes if you're running a fever. Talk about mercury...


Their poisonous spines on their gill covers and top of head are also quite painful.... beware

Where did you find out that the females are the ones in the nests at the end of the season?

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