Studies on reflexion of light from silvery surfaces of fishes, with special reference to the bleak, Alburnus alburnus.
Denton, E.J. and Nicol, J.A.C. (1965) Studies on reflexion of light from silvery surfaces of fishes, with special reference to the bleak, Alburnus alburnus. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 45 (3). pp. 683-703.
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The problem of how a fish can make itself invisible in the natural light-conditions in an aquatic environment is discussed with particular reference to the silvery surfaces of fish.In fish which we have examined, the silvery surfaces are of two types: (1) an argenteum which consists of long thin crystals of guanine whose reflecting surfaces are approximately parallel with the surface of the fish; (2) layers of guanine crystals lying either on the inner surfaces of the scales or in the subdermis-these crystals are not, in general, orientated with their reflecting surfaces parallel with the surfaces of the fish, and are much broader than those of the argenteum. Methods are described by which the orientation of the crystal planes with respect to the planes of the scales on which they lie can be determined. The orientation of the crystals of type 2 in different parts of the body is described for the horse mackerel, Trachurus trachurus (L.), and for the bleak, Alburnus alburnus (L.).For the bleak it is shown that although the planes of the crystals are often very much inclined with respect to the planes of the scales, the long axes of the crystals are always approximately parallel with the planes of scales. The inclination of the crystals, therefore, is away from the scales across their short axes. Measurements of the light transmitted by silvery scales of the bleak show that they reflect light strongly when this falls obliquely on the crystals which theycontain and that they are most transparent to light which strikes the scales in a direction perpendicular to the reflecting planes of the crystals. The high reflectivity of most of the fish to light striking its surfaces at normal incidence is explained by the overlap of the silvery parts of different scales and by the argenteum underneath the scales.
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