About Ostracods

Ostracods, also known as seed shrimp, inhabit the waters around Bonaire, creating a captivating unique natural phenomenon. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Ostracod Basics:
    • Ostracods are tiny crustaceans, measuring around 1 mm (0.04 in) in size.
    • They arise above the coral reefs when most fish go to sleep, specifically a few days after each full moon.
    • Bonaire’s pristine waters provide an ideal setting for this enchanting spectacle.
  2. Bioluminescent Courtship:
    • During their mating season, male ostracods emit light signals to attract potential mates.
    • Imagine underwater fireflies – these luminous displays occur as vertical chains of glowing individuals.
    • The light is faint but mesmerizing, visible only in darkness.
  3. A Natural Wonder:
    • Ostracods’ ritual serves both as a mating strategy and a defense mechanism against predators.
    • Witnessing this magical light show is a rare experience, unique to Bonaire’s marine environment.

Next time you explore Bonaire’s underwater world, keep an eye out for these tiny luminous wonders!

What is the difference between Ostracods and normal bioluminescence?

Ostracods possess a special gland (called the light organ) that allows them to create light through chemical compounds. Unlike typical bioluminescence, where organisms emit light upon disturbance, luminescent ostracods produce a bright cloud of luminescence larger than their own bodies.
Sometimes you can experience both phenomenons, as typical bioluminescence is activated by the moving of fins or body movements.

Can I make a photo or video of Ostracods?

You can try, but you will probably be disappointed with the results. Photographing or filming ostracods presents challenges due to the dark circumstances. Ostracods emit light only in complete darkness, making it difficult to capture their mesmerizing glow on camera. Additionally, their rapid movements and small size further complicate the process.
Our advise: enjoy the spectacle and make only mental pictures.

What is the best dive spot and time to see Ostracods?

Please ask your dive center at Bonaire. Most dive centers offer guided night tours to the best spots to experience Ostracods.