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Genus: Noctiluca | Dinoflagellate

Species: N. scintillans

Order: Noctiluciphyceae

Family: Noctilucaceae


Click on the illustration to enlarge

Description: Large unarmored, round or kidney shaped cells with a striated tentacle, one flagellum  and a eukaryotic nucleus. Cytoplasm may contain photosynthetic symbionts and gametes are gymnodinoid.  Phagotrophic with food vacuoles containing prey. Chloroplasts absent.

Cell Size: Diameter 200-2,000um

Distribution: Cosmopolitan, neritic, cold, and warm waters.

Interesting Facts: Bioluminescent except in the NE Pacific. Reported to produce ammonium during large blooms (orange-red), which may be toxic to fish.

Below: A large nocliluca bloom in Monterey Bay, California, May 2011. For more information, click here. Click on the photo to enlarge.

----------noctiluca bloom

This Phytoplankton Identification page is affiliated with CeNCOOS and HABMAP, and is maintained by the Kudela Lab at the University of California Santa Cruz. Details about site history, funding, and sources of information and images can be found here.