What Are These Glowing Creatures in Toyama Bay?

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  • Did you know that every year, the shorelines of Toyama Bay are lined with a glowing blue color? This light show is not man-made but a natural phenomenon made possible by thousands of watasenia scintillans or firefly squids. They can be found in the bay in abundance during the spring season, from March to June.


    The Firefly Squid


    The firefly squid belongs to a certain species of squid which is 3 inches long. It usually spends the day deep down under the sea (1,200 feet) and only returns to the surface when night falls. It has also been called “glowing firefly squid” because of its bioluminescence. Each of its tentacles has a photophore organ responsible for emitting light. It primarily functions for feeding reasons. The light attracts small fish which the squid then feeds upon.

    The light emitted also prevents predators from spotting them which is further known as counter-illumination camouflage. What happens is, the light produced tries to match the illuminated background (such as the ocean or sky).

    The Festive Light on the Shore

    Millions of firefly squids can be seen on Toyama Beach from March to June, annually. It is at this time that the current is so strong that it pushes the squids upward creating a festive atmosphere along the shore. They come in massive numbers. Some say it is also because of the mating season that some of them come to the surface to drop their eggs in the bay.

    Hotaru Ika Museum


    Hotaru Ika Museum is the only museum dedicated to firefly squids around the world. It is the perfect place to learn more about this mysterious creature regarding breeding grounds and habitats. They also conduct sightseeing tours between March and May. The boats depart from Namerikawa fishing port shortly after 3 in the morning. The short journey is focused on fixing the nets located 1 to 2 km offshore. Once nets are hauled in by fishermen, the firefly squid glows even more which amazes many of the speculators.

    Watching the glowing blue color of the firefly squids in Toyama Bay is definitely an unforgettable experience that is worth a try. These mysterious creatures will never cease to amaze you.

    Hotaruika Museum Website

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