Aquascope Facts

Noctiluca scintillans
Distribution in scandinavian waters

Maximum diameter: Approx. 2 mm, but seldom more than 1 mm in Scandinavian waters. Compare the size with a hair.
Appearance: Seasparkle is almost completely colourless and transparent, but when driven together in large numbers the water can appear thick and have a light brown to pink colour. The cell is relatively large and round and is furnished with three protrusions. Two of the protrusions are small and vague and can easily be believed to correspond to the mobile cell outgrowths on other dinoflagellates. The third protrusion, that is unique for seasparkle and known as a tentacle, is striped and much more pronounced than the others. All the protrusions are situated in a large deep groove on the underside of the cell.
    In the picture above, the picture at the top depicts seasparkle from its underside, the left-hand picture depicts the right side of seasparkle, while the right-hand picture depicts it from above.
Depth: Seasparkle is most common in the upper reaches of the sea that recieves sunlight.
Environment: Pelagic.
Misc: Seasparkle is so large because it pumps itself up with water. By regulating the amount of ions it can effect its bouyancy and towards the end of the bloom they usually congregate at the surface. In the large cells, thousands of small reproductive bodies can be formed.
    With the help of its tentacle seasparkle collects its food, which can be of the same size as itself, and carry it to its mouth which is situated at the bottom of the groove. Coloured particles seen in the cell are often particles of food or small photosynthesizing organisms that live together with the seasparkle.
    Seasparkle is one of those organisms that cause phosphorescence of the sea in our waters!
Classification: Sea sparkle belongs to the dinoflagellate group under the "protists". The protists as a systematic group is not well motivated or defined, as it is used to collect organismer that are not bacterias, fungi, plants or animals into a common group.

Seasparkle     Other names

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© Aquascope 2000   Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory, Strömstad, Sweden
Bo Johannesson | Martin Larsvik | Lars-Ove Loo | Helena Samuelsson