Bioluminescence reveals deep-water motion in the Mediterranean

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

In 2009 and 2010, the underwater neutrino telescope ANTARES detected an unusual phenomenon: the bioluminescence of deep-sea organisms suddenly increased, revealing an unexpected connection between biological activity—bioluminescence—and the motion of water masses in the deep ocean. Convective motion in the Gulf of Lion provides deep waters with oxygen and nutrients that boost biological activity. Published on July 10th in PloS ONE, the work was carried out by a team coordinated by CNRS researchers from the Institut Méditerranéen d'Océanographie (CNRS / IRD / Aix-Marseille Université / Université du Sud Toulon-Var) and the Centre de Physique des Particules de Marseille (CNRS / Aix-Marseille Université).

Artist's impression of the impact of dense water formation on biological activity (bioluminescence) in the deep-sea environment as detected by the ANTARES telescope. © Graphic design:


Deep-sea bioluminescence blooms after dense water formation at the ocean surface. Tamburini C, Canals M, Durrieu de Madron X, Houpert L, Lefèvre D, et al. PLoS ONE. 10 July 2013. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0067523

  • Christian Tamburini, MIO/PYTHÉAS
    christian [dot] tamburini [at] univ-amu [dot] fr, 04 91 82 90 53
  • Stéphanie Escoffier, CPPM
    escoffier [at] cppm [dot] in2p3 [dot] fr, 04 91 82 76 64