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 There are many things that live in the ocean; Pyrocystis fusiformis is among them. It is not found in many places and there has not been a large amount of study on this organism alone. This organism tends to live in coastal waters at depths between 60 meters and 100 meters. Pyrocystis fusiformis tends to live in low light areas in order to reduce predation by using its bioluminescent ability to protect itself (Foflonker and Cowan 2010).

This species prefers to live in waters that range in temperature from 18 to about 21 degrees Celsius, in water where the range of salinity is between 34 and 36ppt which is the average for most oceanic water. Since this organism prefers to have water with salt in it, you would not be seeing them in streams, rivers, or freshwater lakes inland (Encyclopedia of Life 2013).

Image used with permission, 2013. Image located at organism has been found in a few regions around the world, but not densely populated. These regions include but are not limited to the western coast of South Africa, far off the western coast of Central America, on the western coast of Spain and Portugal, eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, surrounding the coasts of Japan, and on the east coast of Oman in the Middle East. Since this organism prefers to live in places where there is darkness, you will not see them in an area that is too close to the coast where the water is clear and the light can reach all the way down to the bottom of the ocean floor (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO).
Pyrocystis fusiformis can be considered to be found in a variety of areas due to it being found of the coast of multiple continents. It seems to be very specialized in its habitat. It is only found in the ocean with rules out many other water habitats that contain freshwater, and others that have a much higher salinity level. It is also found only on the coastal areas, meaning that it will not be found too far out, say in the middle of the Pacific ocean, but you would not be able to see them from the shore looking out to the ocean. It is also unlikely that they will be found at the surface; but mostly they will be deep enough that they can use the darkness of the environment to protect themselves when needed. This organism is very specialized in what type of habitat it can live in, but this coastal type of habitat can be found around the world. Specifically it will be found around the warmer areas closer to the equator, but unlikely to be seen farther north or south due to the frigid environment.

There are many types of organisms that live in the ocean ranging from the smallest microbial size to large than life like many whales out there.  Dinoflagellates in general are very important in the ecosystem, and because they are widespread in the ocean, will come into contact with many organisms. One important species that Pyrocystis fusiformis  will come into contact with are other planktonic species. This is because the Pyrocystis fusiformis is a mixotroph, both heterotrophic and phototrophic, and will eat the plankton (Miller).

The other organisms that this species will come into contact with are marine animals like whales and other oceanic species like the octopus, squid, and even Pacific herring. These whales are filter feeding animals that eat many organisms like Pyrocystis fusiformis and other dinoflagellates and planktonic species (Miller). One interesting event called the “Milky Sea” phenomenon has largely been thought to be caused by the Pyrocystis fusiformis. In the past, ship logs documented that they had seen large waves of glowing in the ocean. This has now been proven to be a false assumption and it has been suggested that this phenomenon is actually caused by a bacteria call Vibrio harveyi that is also bioluminescent, but provides a steady glow instead of a blinking intermittent glow that is caused by aggravation. Since both of these organisms live in coastal waters of the ocean, it is understandable that the mix-up was made due to more knowledge about one organism (Pyrocystis fusiformis) and not a lot about the other (Vibrio harveyi).

"There is nothing I like better than nice warm water!"
        -Pyrocystis fusiformis

Want to know how Pyrocystis fusiformis lives in its environment? Go to Form and Function.



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