George Adams Compass Microscope (circa 1740s)

License Info
Image Use
Custom Photos
Site Info
Contact Us

The Galleries:

Photo Gallery
Silicon Zoo
Chip Shots
DNA Gallery
Amino Acids
Religion Collection
Cocktail Collection
Screen Savers
Win Wallpaper
Mac Wallpaper
Movie Gallery

Wim van Egmond

Seasparkle (Noctiluca) in Darkfield

Members of the genus Noctiluca are dinoflagellates, a class of primarily marine protozoa that possess two flagella. Dinoflagellates also characteristically feature a transverse groove, or girdle, that houses the circumferential flagellum and that exhibits a posterior extension called a sulcus that holds the longitudinal flagellum.

Seasparkle (Noctiluca) in Darkfield

Noctiluca species are some of the largest single-celled organisms in the world. The most well known of the genus is Noctiluca scintillans, which may grow from 200 to 2000 microns in diameter. These dinoflagellates possess nearly spherical, balloon-like bodies that lack a pronounced girdle. The organisms do, however, retain two flagella, though they are highly modified, not always noticeable, and are not strong enough to readily facilitate locomotion. Rather, Noctiluca scintillans controls its vertical position by regulating its buoyancy, often floating just under the surface of the water.

Noctiluca scintillans is widely distributed throughout the world, occurring most often in coastal waters. Sometimes referred to as seasparkle, the organisms are often responsible for lighting up the sea, and sometimes the wet sand, at night. In large quantities, the dinoflagellates are bioluminescent, though individually they cannot produce perceptible light. The glittering phenomena produced by blooms is believed by some to be a defensive mechanism, acting as a deterrent to predators who want to avoid becoming bioluminescent themselves, an attribute that could make them more readily seen and caught by other organisms.


Questions or comments? Send us an email.
Photomicrographs are © 2000-2022 by Wim van Egmond.
All Rights Reserved under copyright law.
© 1995-2022 by Michael W. Davidson and The Florida State University. All Rights Reserved. No images, graphics, software, scripts, or applets may be reproduced or used in any manner without permission from the copyright holders. Use of this website means you agree to all of the Legal Terms and Conditions set forth by the owners.
This website is maintained by our
Graphics & Web Programming Team
in collaboration with Optical Microscopy at the
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
Last modification: Friday, Nov 13, 2015 at 01:18 PM
Access Count Since September 15, 2003: 20930
Microscopes provided by:
Visit the Nikon website. Visit the Olympus Microscopy Resource Center website.