The shell of Hinea brasiliana amplifies the light and the faint glow this produces illuminates the whole shell surface. When the snail retracts into its yellow shell to avoid a predator, the shell still glows. The shell’s glow is colour-specific: the glow is only produced when the snail produces its blue-green light. Researchers believe the shell’s glow also reflects onto persistent predators like crabs, who are then ‘highlighted’ so they are easy to spot by their own predators.
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The image shows examples of the clusterwink snail H. brasiliana emitting biolumuniescent light (right) and without light. Credit: Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego