Lantern Fish Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Ryan Newton
Lanternfish are mysterious creatures of the ocean. They intrigue us with their unusual features and ability to make light in the depths of the water. This lesson will teach you about these wondrous fish and how they survive in very harsh conditions.

Who Turned Out the Light?

Being alone in the dark can be scary. Luckily for us, we have flashlights, nightlights, and even cell phones to help us see in the dark. We also have other lights we can turn on, and there's always the sun!

But imagine living in a world with no light. Let me introduce you to a little fish by the name of Luna. She lives very deep in the ocean, where it's always dark.

Luna doesn't have a flashlight or a cell phone, but she does have a secret weapon. She can do something that's almost magical. Luna has the power to light up her body so she can see in the dark. She can create her own light. Luna is a lanternfish, one of the most unique fish in the ocean.

Lanternfish create their own light so they can see in the dark.

Always in the Dark

Lanternfish live most of their lives about 3,000 feet beneath the surface of the ocean. They swim up closer to the surface at night to find food and avoid predators, but they're usually completely in the dark. You see, the sunlight can't reach that far down in the water, so it's always black down there.

There are lanternfish like Luna in every ocean on Earth. As a matter of fact, scientists think there are more lanternfish than any other type of deep-sea creature. They're a very important part of the oceans' ecosystems because they're a food source for larger sea creatures. But what makes lanternfish so unique is their ability to make their own light.

You Light up my Life

Have you ever had a glow stick, maybe at Halloween? They're fun to play with, but what makes them glow like that? It's actually caused by a chemical reaction. Animals like lanternfish and fireflies also use a chemical reaction to make themselves glow. It's called bioluminescence. Big word, I know. It just means they use chemicals in their body to make light.

At six inches or less, lanternfish are pretty tiny.

Lanternfish are typically no bigger than six inches long. They have a narrow body, silvery scales, and really big eyes. Their big eyes help them capture any light that might be around them. They use special organs on their bodies called photophores to produce their own light. The photophores are located on their head and along the bottom of their body.

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