The Firefly Squid of Toyama Bay – Namerikawa, Japan - Atlas Obscura

The Firefly Squid of Toyama Bay

Namerikawa, Japan

Bioluminescent firefly squid light up this Japanese fishing port. 


Watasenia scintillans, or the Firefly Squid, is only 3 inches long, but packs a stunning feature in that small package. At the end of their tentacles are special organs called photophores that light up like glow sticks at a rave. In the Toyama Bay, in the central Japan Sea, the squid are found in fantastic abundance. Normally living at 1200 feet underwater, a v shaped canyon in Toyama bay pushes the current, and the squid, to the surface in massive numbers where, forced up, the millions of squids turn the bay into a writhing, gleaming blue froth.

Fished by the ton from March to June, when the fishing boats dump the nets onto the boat floor the squirming squids light up and turn the boats themselves into blue beacons. Thankfully, for the curious visitors, one need not sign up to work on a Japanese fishing-boat tour to see the phenomenon. Sightseeing boats depart from the Namerikawa fishing port around 3am to see the nets 1 to 2 km offshore.

It should be noted that Namerikawa is also home to the world’s only museum dedicated to the firefly squid.

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July 22, 2016

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