Listen to a conversation between a student and her biology professor.
Hi, Jean, how was the... uh, the conference, right, the conference on volunteerism?
That's where you were last week.
Yeah. It was great.
I met a lot of people from some really amazing organizations that are working in the area.
Now it would be a lot easier to get students to volunteer in the community.
Plus, I have never been to any of the beaches here before.
Being at the beach was definitely a plus.
Well, I hope you had time to look over the notes from the class you missed.
You did get the notes, right?
Yup. I'll look them over before tomorrow's class.
Good. And let me know if you have any questions.
Well, there is something that I wanted to ask you now.
It's about something I noticed at the beach.
Oh, what's that?
Well, see, there are a lot of jellyfish there, floating in the water.
That couldn't have been pleasant.
Not for swimming.
But it was interesting.
I mean, the jellyfish were glowing, I swear they were.
And I am wondering what that's about.
Ah, glowing jellyfish.
That is interesting. Uh, it's called bioluminescence.
And actually we are going to talk about it later in the semester.
Basically, bioluminescence is light that's produced by a chemical reaction.
Really? Inside the jellyfish?
Well, not all jellyfish, about half of them.
Actually, a lot of marine organisms have this ability, especially in deeper parts of the ocean.
Oh, I get it.
Like the darker it gets, the more the fish needs light, right?
Well, bioluminescence serves a number of functions.
Most aquatic organisms use it for communication and for attracting prey.
But jellyfish usually use it as a defense against predators.
Some jellyfish produce bright flashes of light that confuse predators, to, uh, to startle them.
But jellyfish closer to the surface, probably like the jellyfish you saw, they use bioluminescence to hide.
The light they produce matches the color of the dim sunlight, so they blend in, and, uh, and predators can't see them.
Well, I am looking for a topic for my term paper, so maybe I could do it on these glowing jellyfish.
That's why I wanted to ask you about them, you know, to find out if there was really something to write about.
It's a great topic.
But you'll have to make sure the topic is manageable.
Like I said, about half of all jellyfish are bioluminescent, so you may want to look at a particular type of jellyfish or several types that benefit form bioluminescence in the same way.
Or you could investigate current research on bioluminescence, on, on the chemical process, or…
Here's an idea.
You seem to be very involved in local issues.
See if you can identify the jellyfish you observed on the beach and how they fit into the local ecosystem.
Yeah, you know, some of the environmental groups I met last week might even be able to help me.