Pic ‘o the week – eyes of a giant octopus

A stunning close-up of a North Pacific giant octopus (Enteroctopus dofleini) in the Japan Sea. How did talented Russian photographer Alexander Semenov get so close? He says “It’s not easy to get close, but this one was a very patient and calm one. And he was curious about me, so we contacted a little and I made this shot.”

copyright Alexander Semenov
copyright Alexander Semenov

Alexander’s photos of underwater creatures and their habitats are beautiful and haunting. Check them out here on his site, and if you fall in love with them, buy prints here on Artflakes.

Pic o’ the week – crystals of a sea urchin’s tooth

Photo by Pupa U.P.A. Gilbert and Christopher E. Killian, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Photo by Pupa U.P.A. Gilbert and Christopher E. Killian, University of Wisconsin-Madison

You’re looking at the tip of a sea urchin’s tooth. Really. This remarkable macro photo won the first place & people’s choice awards in the International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, an annual contest of the National Science Foundation.

This is very cool stuff:

“These fantastical structures are the microscopic crystals that make up a sea urchin’s tooth. Each shade of blue, aqua, green, and purple–superimposed with Photoshop on a scanning electron micrograph (SEM)–highlights an individual crystal of calcite, the abundant carbonate mineral found in limestone, marble, and shells.

The curved surfaces of the crystals look nothing like normal calcite crystal faces. Instead of flat sides and sharp edges, the sea urchin produces ‘incredibly complex, intertwined’ curved plates and fibers that interlock and fill space in the tooth as they grow. Though made of a substance normally as soft as chalk, the teeth are hard enough to grind rock, gnawing holes where the sea urchins take shelter from rough seas and predators.” —NSF

Mahalo to Mission Blue for tipping us off to this fascinating and beautiful photo.

Pic o’ the week – holiday Painted Frogfish

A fish so intricate and glittery it could be an ornament in your holiday displays. At first glance, you might not realize this showy Painted Frogfish (Antennarius Pictus) is even a fish. And its glitz disguises a ferocious carnivorous appetite.

Painted Frogfish, off Seraya, Bali, Indonesia. Copyright Allen Lee
Painted Frogfish, off Seraya, Bali, Indonesia.
Copyright Allen Lee

See that antenna-like thing coming out of its nose? That’s a dorsal spine, used by the rather sedentary frogfish to lure smaller fish and crustaceans into its large mouth.

Mahalo to Allen Lee, for allowing us to post this terrific photo that he snapped in Indonesia.

Pic ‘o the week – colors of Antarctica

Photographer Tony Beck snapped this stunning photo during a tour of the Antarctic Peninsula in January 2010 with Worldwide Quest and One Ocean Expeditions. In his words:

“These ‘iceberg alleys’ often reveal endless shapes, forms, lines and patterns of ice. Among them, we often see many shades of blue. We also find wildlife like whales, seals, penguins, and in this particular case, a South Polar Skua, perched on top of the berg.  The experience of sailing through these alleys can be exciting, inspiring, humbling and adventurous.”

Read more about ice color at SEED Science and here. Read more about Antarctic and arctic ice here. Check out marine biologist James McClintock’s new book, Antarctic Bound: Adventures in a Disappearing Land.

Pic o’ the week – sand grain kaleidoscope

Ah! If I had the eyes to see,
And brain to understand,
I think Life’s mystery might be
Solved in this grain of sand.
 –Robert William Service

Here, a microphotograph by Dr. Gary Greenberg of sand, that stuff the we love to get between our toes on the beach.

Greenberg’s passion is revealing the ‘secret beauty of nature’ by photographing elements of the natural world through the lenses of the hi-def, 3-D light microscopes that he invented.These sand grains are from a Maui beach. As Dr. Greenberg notes:

“The tip of a spiral shell has broken off and become a grain of sand. After being repeatedly tumbled by action of the surf this spiral sand grain has become opalescent in character. It is surrounded by bits of coral, shell, and volcanic material.”

His stunning photos of sand from around the world are collected in his book A Grain of Sand. Check it out.

Pic o’ the week – the giant, polka-dotted shark

The beloved, gentle and enormous whale shark, sought out by tourists….

Whale shark (Rhincodon typus) and tourist, Quintana-Roo, Mexico, Caribbean Sea.
Photo by Andre Seale, ArteSub.com; courtesy Marine Photobank

They’re the biggest fish in the sea, they are remarkable, and we may be loving them to death:

“The massive polka-dotted fish roam the world’s warm oceans as solitary creatures. But they occasionally gather in large groups, or aggregations, to feast on everything from plankton to fish eggs. As the aggregation sites have become known, tourists have flocked to them, with tour operators from Mexico to the Maldives selling opportunities to swim “with the world’s biggest shark.” The slow-moving whale sharks are filter-feeders and pose no danger to humans. They are found in all of the world’s temperate seas, though scientists are unsure how many exist, where they breed or where they give birth.

‘Suddenly everyone has this on their bucket list,” said Brent Stewart, a scientist at San Diego’s Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, who has studied whale sharks in half a dozen countries. “People are willing to pay money for this kind of eco-tourism, and now you see these unintended consequences. We have seen a frenzy in all these areas.'”

–excerpt, Jim Tharpe, Washington Post

For more info, check out whale sharks on Arkive.

Where are whale shark diving hotspots? Check here on scuba-dive.org.

Mahalo to SeaWeb’s Marine Photobank for providing the photo.

Pic ‘o the week – Red Bull

A Red Bull (Amphipoda Acanthonotozoma inflatum) in the White Sea.

photo © Alexander Semenov

Says photog Alexander Semenov, “This amphipod crustacean is kinda unique, because of its very bright color, but it lives in the bushes of red algaes usually, so it’s hidden from enemies and carnivores. Acanthonotozoma feeds on bryozoans, destroying their small houses and eating soft parts.”

Pic o’ the week – ocean light

As Northerners soak up the summer solstice sun, we’re reminded that the ocean has its own creatures who add a glow to seas below. Rob Spray snapped this lovely pic of a colony of Lightbulb Sea Squirts, nicknamed for the way they seem to emanate light. These sea squirts are actually transparent zooids whose larvae swim upward toward the ocean surface’s light when they are released, before settling back to the seabed.

Lightbulb Sea Squirts (Clavelina lepadiformis) off the Norfolk Coast, North Sea (UK). Image captured by Rob Spray ©2009.

See more of Rob’s dive photos at his website.

Pic o’ the week – marine inverterbate … pancakes

How cool are these pancakes?! Of all the ocean art out there, and ocean-related food, these are among our faves – marine invertebrate pancakes, straight from Saipancakes. Their talented creator, math-teacher-turned-Saipan-Dad Nathan Shields, needs to package these – they’re waaayyyy better than Eggos.

Pic ‘o the week – yellownose gobies & brain coral

A healthy coral reef can be one of the most colorful places on earth: here, a pair of curious yellownose gobies gaze out from their refuge of richly textured bolder brain coral.

Todd Mintz snapped this stunning photo in of yellownose gobies, Elacatinus randalli, and bolder brain coral in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean.

This pic won First Place, Macro in the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science’s annual amateur underwater photography contest. Check out the other winners here – and get your underwater photog vibe on — there’s plenty of time to grab some award-winning ocean pics for next year.