Phosphorescence of the Jelly-Fish


THE conclusions arrived at by Mr. Verrill (NATURE, July 17, p. 281) cannot fail to be of interest to all who have ever speculated on the significance of the luminosity displayed by so many Acalephæ, Medusæ, and other marine organisms. When in the tropics, in 1875, very similar ideas occurred to me, and in an address on the phenomena of cyclical propagation delivered to the Essex Field Club on January 28, 1882, I ventured to put forward the following views, which, as the address is still in manuscript, I will beg permission to quote:—“It was in the Bay of Bengal, when on the Eclipse Expedition of 1875, that I first saw shoals of Medusæ in their full splendour. Speculating on the meaning of the vivid colours and brilliant phosphorescence of these creatures, I came to the conclusion that both these characters might be protective danger-signals of the same nature and fulfilling the same function as the bright colours of distasteful caterpillars according to Wallace's well-known theory, or the phosphorescence of the Lampyridæ according to Thomas Belt (‘Naturalist in Nicaragua,’ p. 320). The ‘urticating’ powers of the jelly-fish would certainly make them unpleasant, if not absolutely dangerous, to predatory fish, and their bright colours and luminosity at night may thus be true warning characters.”

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MELDOLA, R. Phosphorescence of the Jelly-Fish. Nature 30, 289 (1884).

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