02 December 2009

Algae 'sex tapes' and other micro marvels

I'm already fascinated by the marinelife that we can see with the naked eye, sometimes with a lot of squinting, especially if it's something Chay Hoon found. But there's a whole galaxy of other creatures and features that we can't even see on our own!
Here's some of the winners of the 2009 BioScapes competition. And taking third place is a series of photos of algae doin' it. Fascinating!

Third Place: Algae Sex
An algae "sex tape" snagged third place in the 2009 BioScapes competition. The time-lapse movie of the two-hour process shows the "power of sexual attraction even in simple algae," according to a statement by contest organizers. Biochemist Jeremy Pickett-Heaps, of Australia's University of Melbourne, filmed the cells squeezing through narrow fertilization tubes that partner cells had just built between them (seen above in a series of still images).
— Photograph courtesy Jeremy Pickett-Heaps, Olympus BioScapes

Sixth Place: Sting Cells
Few would willingly approach the Portuguese man-of-war's venomous tentacles. But biologist Alvaro Migotto of Brazil's University of Sao Paulo took the risk--and won sixth place in the 2009 BioScapes competition for this up-close image of the animal's bubblegum pink stinging cells. A delicate muscular band surrounding the cells (seen in light purple) allow the tentacles to easily contract into a gas-filled, floating chamber.
— Photograph courtesy Alvaro Migotto, Olympus BioScapes
The above are from the Best Microscopic-Life Images of 2009 on National Geographic News.

On the 2009 BioScapes competition homepage, the honorable mentions include these close ups of some familiar sea creatures.

Dr. Rachel Fink
Mount Holyoke College, Department of Biological Sciences
South Hadley, MA, USA
Specimen: Loligo peali (Squid embryo)

Dr. Alvaro Migotto
University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Specimen: Eurythoe complanata (Fire worm)

Dr. Alvaro Migotto
University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Specimen: Turritopsis nutricula (Jellyfish)

Mr. James Nicholson
Mount Pleasant, SC, USA
Specimen: Fungia fragment

Visit the 2009 BioScapes competition homepage for more images of interesting parts of plants, bugs, parasites and stuff you didn't think we could get a photo of.


  1. Wow! Ultimate frontier photography of the inner space! Thanks Ria, for sharing and pointing out the resource.

  2. Thanks Joe for the encouragement. I'm quite amazed by the photos too!



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