Microscopic “aliens” of the ocean!


The ocean holds remarkable wonders from behemoth whales to iron-“breathing” bacteria ( See: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090416144512.htm).  You might even call some of them “alien” to emphasize just how different from our expectations some of them can be.

Being granted the wonderful opportunity to spend some time at a local Marine Station, I set out — with foldscope in hand — to try to find and share one of these “aliens” with the microcosmos community.

As micro-enthusiasts, we all know sometimes you needn’t look far — often peering into the micro is enough. Mindful of this approach, and inspired by some wonderful work at the ocean’s surface (any one interested in the ocean should look over this project! http://www.embl.de/tara-oceans/start/), I found some friends knowledgeable about plankton and swimming larvae.

Watch this “alien” taken on a 140x foldsope (in a special “dark-field” mode which is detailed here : http://microcosmos.foldscope.com/2015/06/24/simple-dark-field-improve-your-imaging-contrast-with-another-classic-microscopy-technique/)

Look at that beautiful “swallow”! Can you see the circulation of particles around the head and mouth? Lots of great structure to see in this short video. Enjoy.

This is a great example of some of the astonishing things you can find in the ocean. Remarkably, these bilaterally symmetric larvae ultimately turn into an adult starfish (pateria miniata) with 5 appendages. (http://www.cokesmithphototravel.com/coastal-california.html)



Learn more about the metamorphosis by looking at http://oceandevbio2013.blogspot.com/2013/05/species-patiria-miniata-phylum.html.


These “aliens” are just one of many in the ocean. Keep on exploring.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Manu Prakash says:

    @Matt: fantastic video of the muscle contraction. What’s inside the gut of the organism – algae?

    Beautiful post.


  2. laksiyer says:

    I am envious with these wonderful echinoderm larvae pictures and videos.

  3. Manu Prakash says:

    @laks: luxury of living in California 🙂 catching them is fairly easy – all you need is a fine fabric and scoop out a little bit of the ocean. It’s filled with “aliens”..

    @Matt: do you know if we can ship larvae live. Do you happen to have some fixed slides you can send Laks to play with as well.

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