Losey Lab Research: Coping with UV


During a routine videotaping session with our UV camera system, we discovered the "cheshire cat" of the ultraviolet world: a fish which disappeared entirely but for its mouth! Canthigaster jactator, the Hawaiian white-spotted toby, disappears below 360 nm (see below). As we found when we swabbed the fishes side, this is due to the mucus coating of the fish absorbing UV light. A further survey of tropical marine fishes showed that, of 100 reef fish species, 94% contained strong absorbance peaks in their mucus (Zamzow & Losey 2002, see publications page). Most fish mucus contained more than one UV-absorbing peak, suggesting a broad-band ultraviolet screening function. Click here for details of our experimental manipulations of UV and the effects it has on fish mucus. Or, check out why we think that parrotfish mucus is neat! For a list of species we've looked at, click here.

Canthigaster jactator seen through the 360-nm filter.

Canthigaster jactator at 340 nm before mucus removal Canthigaster jactator at 340 nm after mucus removal

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