Fluorescent Friday

Biofluorescent Night Dive

I have always been intrigued by how and why some creatures fluoresce above and below the waterline.

Biofluorescence is the absorption and reemission of light from living organisms. Fluorescent organisms have proteins built into their skin or other tissues that absorb energy from light and reemit it as a different colors. This results in a wonderful display of color.

In the ocean, blue light penetrates through the water, where some organisms absorb that energy, and then emit light at a lower energy in colors such as green or red. This article from Dive Photo Guide dives into the science of fluorescence as it applies to underwater photography.

Scuba divers need special yellow filters to see the reemitted light. In addition to my normal camera set-up, I used a blue light, and yellow filters on my camera lens and on my mask. Below are the additional items I used to capture the video above.

  • Sealife Sea Dragon Mini Fluoro Light
    • This light came with yellow filter for a scuba diver’s mask.
    • Since this was my first experience with fluoro diving and I was not sure how it would work. I selected a lower end mini model and was pleased with the results. However, if I have the opportunity to upgrade, I would go with the higher model that has a wider beam range. For non-photographers/videographers, the mini would suit them well.
  • Tiffen Yellow Filter
    • The yellow barrier filter blocked any reflected excitation light and transmit only the fluorescence from the subject.
    • Basically, allowed me to record exactly what I was seeing through the mask filter.
    • It’s a wet lens, so I just attached it to the front of my underwater camera housing.

I shot this video off the house reef at Six Senses Laamu Resort during our first night dive there. The Laamu Atoll is located in the Maldives.

Overall, I was amazed by the color captured during the night dive. I will plan to try again on my next night dive. Hopefully, I can schedule the night dive around coral spawning. This is the time when corals colonies reproduce by releasing their eggs and sperm all at the same time. However, with a global pandemic, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to coordinate this year.

5 thoughts on “Fluorescent Friday

  1. The video is spectacular. As a kid, when there was ‘red tide’, we would swim at night, and watch the green biolumination wash off us, like glowing green oil. During the day it looked too red, at night, it was this luminous glowing green. Magical.

  2. Stunning video! I can’t get over the bright, gem-like colours. I’ve only seen bioluminescence off a dock in British Columbia’s northern Gulf Islands. Seeing it while diving would be amazing.

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