TGIF and Friday Deep-Sea Picture: Nudibranchs

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I see that some are still trying to claim echinoderms are cooler. I see the evil order now even has their own blog. Thankfully we still have a tiny little magazine you might have heard of-National Geographic. Photographer David Doubilet has a series on nudibranchs with some of the best photography of any organism ever. The shot above Halgerda batangas is my favorite. Just keep in mind that molluscs lost their shells in at least three independent evolutionary events (and some of these may also represent multiple trajectories): octopods & squids, land slugs, and sea slugs. More nudibranch love, in the form of videos, is below the fold.


Dr. M (1618 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.





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7 comments on “TGIF and Friday Deep-Sea Picture: Nudibranchs
  1. i certainly love nudibranchs, and doubilet has produced some stunning images…

    i just hope that their popularity doesn’t further instill and promote the message that moving marine life/manipulating the environment for the sake of a “good final shot” is okay and sustainable behavior on the part of photographer divers…

    photographers are already some of the worst offenders when it comes to clumsy, careless, or unthinking diving behavior just to get the perfect shot… i’ve watched macro photographers like doubilet wedge themselves in coral, breaking fragile branching coral, moving species to compose a shot, and generally becoming oblivious to their surroundings…

    this sends the wrong message to the majority of non-professional, average joe/josephine divers who then think moving or disturbing natural settings for a great shot is acceptable…

  2. Sweet! Who wouldn’t recognize the beauty of these nudi’s, especially laid bare like these are?

    Man, David Doubilet has always been one of my inspirations. The images he gets are often very powerful and have reached millions. Of course to reach that audience with a book like Reefs, without doing any harm to the reef and associated creatures is even better!

    I totally understand where Rick is coming from, and I object to disturbing of an animal to get that “great shot” (though I’m not sure the technique used here, the shadows on the white look very photomanipulated), and for a nature photographer it is sometimes very tempting to do whatever it takes to get that shot when you know it could be forever until the opportunity comes again…

    but still…

    the effect here is very powerful, revealing the full beauty of the animal itself. I have often shown underwater images from reefs to friends and family and they ooh and awe at all the pretty colors but it is often hard for them to separate the individual animals like the nudi’s here. These images make it crystal clear, and I would think, help extend some love to our “uncharismatic” inverts.

  3. according to the video accompanying the images on the nat geo site, doubilet shot the slugs with a portable background he took underwater… he then appears to put them back were he found them…

    so it’s a “do as i say, not as i do” sort of philosophy…

    if it were just doubilet, i wouldn’t have an much of an issue… but from chatter on photo sites like wetpixel and scuba diving about his images, he inspires thousands of ersatz photographers to follow his lead… i guess i want to hold our heros to a higher standard…

  4. @Rick

    sigh…so true.

    With that evidence it is unfortunately hard to justify since it will mean far too many intrusions for so very little reason.

  5. I’m not sure I agree with Rick here. I mean there is no doubt some photographers damage reef but I have to say the vast majority of those educated enough on the subject to know who doubilet is are also those who are very conscious of the implications of their actions underwater and less likely to commit the offences he mentions. I’m afraid the real problems I see come from newly qualified(ish) divers who’ve just splashed a hundred bucks or so for a housing for their holidays and don’t have the skills to use it and dive at the same time (or don’t know enough to not do things like move stuff, break coral (or my personal peeve) harass turtles).

    I hope I’m right in saying the majority of wetpixel users (and I know its true for digitaldiver.net users as I’ve seen the threads) would abhor such behaviour.

  6. tai…
    i have nothing to offer but our observations based on field data of the dive industry over the past decade… the most common reaction i hear from divers (photographers or otherwise) when i talk about sustainable practice is “you’re preaching to the choir”… then i go diving with these paragons of sustainability and it’s anything but…

    every “celebrity” photographer is unique of course, but some of the “old school” cadre of photographers are some of the worst offenders… i won’t name names, but the pool of names is small so i’m sure you can figure out to whom i refer… a lot of arrogance and ego and sense of entitlement and rationalization that any damage is offset by book sales…

    as to average joe diver photographers, again the data shows they require more attention and supervision above and beyond the non photographer diver… their contact with coral and other species is sometimes 4 times that of non photographers…

    we emulate what we see and hear, so if the message is “manipulating the environment is okay for the sake of the great shot,” then that tends to translate into day to day practice…

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