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Link: • Carl Linnaeus to Lars Salvius, 20 March 1750 n.s.
Dated 1750 III/9. Sent from Uppsala (Sweden) to Stockholm (Sweden). Written in Swedish.


This letter contains Linnaeus’s report to Lars Salvius Salvius, Lars (1706-1773).
Swedish. Printer, bookseller, publisher.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
on the phosphorescence of the sea. Linnaeus has received a treatise from a gentleman in Venice [Linnaeus refers presumably to Joseph von RathgebRathgeb, Joseph von
(17??-1753). Austrian. Naturalist,
imperial legate at Venice. Correspondent
of Linnaeus.
] on this phenomenon written by Giuseppe VianelliVianelli, Giuseppe (17?-17?).
Italian. Entomologist.
Nuove scoperto intorno le luci notturneVianelli, Giuseppe Nuove
scoperto intorno le luci notturne
dell’acqua marina, spettanti alla
naturale storia, fatte da Giuseppe
Vianelli Medico-Fisico in Chioggia, e
consecrate a Sua Eccellenza H. N. U.
Sig:or Girolamo Giustiani
. Linnaeus finds his results epoch-making and necessary to forward to the learned world.

Scientists have believed that this phosphorescence of the sea is created by electricity, an opinion rendered by physicists or by the phosphorus of the sea water, an opinion rendered by chemists.

Vianelli noticed that the phosphorescence only appears from early summer to late autumn.

He examined sea water in his home and found that it gleamed in the dark when he splashed it with his hand. When he strained off the water through a piece of cloth, the water did not shine any more. In the cloth he saw minuscule shining particles. In a microscope he saw that these particles were living worms, fully equipped with bristles, antennae or tentacles.

The whole body of these worms shines, not only a small part of it as is the case with glow-worms.

Thus, Vianelli has presented indisputable proof that the phosphorescence of the sea is caused by these little worms, and also that Penna Marina glow in the dark (which Thomas ShawShaw, Thomas (1692-1751).
British. Explorer, professor of Greek at
Oxford. Collector of natural history
objects. Travelled in the Middle East
and in Africa.
has written about; the fishermen in Alger get them in their nets) [Linnaeus refers to TravelsShaw, Thomas Travels, or
observations relating to several parts
of Barbary and the Levant

From Vianelli’ s account, Linnaeus is certain that these worms are species of the genus Aphrodita.


1. "Linnaeus´ recension av Giuseppo Vianellis Nuove scoperto intorno le luci notturne dell’acqua marina" (1750), p. 81-82 .
2. Svenska arbeten (1879), vol. 1, p. 216-221   p.216  p.217  p.218  p.219  p.220  p.221.
3. Bref och skrifvelser (1908), vol. I:2, p. 143-145   p.143  p.144  p.145.