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Photography

Stunning Photographs from 2019 Ocean Art Contest Explore Depths of Aquatic Life Around the World

January 15, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Crab-Eater Seal” by Greg Lecoeur, Best of Show. All images © Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition 2019, shared with permission

A 2019 contest organized by the Underwater Photography Guide has collected some of the best photographs of aquatic life around the globe, from an image capturing a seal maneuvering through a chunk of ice in Antarctic waters to another depicting an octopus resting on the ocean floor. This year’s Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest drew thousands of entires from 78 countries that were judged by renowned underwater photographers Tony Wu, Martin Edge, and Marty Snyderman, along with Underwater Photography Guide publisher Scott Gietler. It also handed out more than $85,000 to entrants.

We’ve included some of our favorite photographs from across the 17 categories, including marine life behavior, portrait, conservation, and reefscapes, although a full list of winners can be found on the contest’s site. Stay tuned for information on the 2020 contest in September.

“Biodiversity” by Greg Lecoeur, Reefscapes

“Gigantic Aggregation of Munk Devil Rays in Baja California Sur” by Jason Clue, Marine Life Behavior

“Larval tripod fish” by Fabien Michenet, Blackwater

“Radiography” by Stefano Cerbai, Macro

“Strange Encounters” by Hannes Klostermann, Marine Life Behavior

“A friendly ride” by Paula Vianna, Marine Life Behavior

“Leopard Shark” by Jake Wilton, Novice Wide Angle

“Treats from Maloolaba River” by Jenny Stock, Nudibranchs

“Coconut Octopus” by Enrico Somogyi, Compact Wide Angle

“The Hypnotist” by Dave Johnson, Macro

“Eye of the Tornado” by Adam Martin, Wide Angle

“Under the Pier” by Jose Antonio Castellano, Wide Angle

 

 



Photography Science

‘Sea-Thru’ Allows Scientists to Accurately Recalibrate the True Colors of Sea Life

November 21, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Two researchers at the University of Haifa have developed Sea-Thru, an algorithmic method for color-correcting underwater images. The tool allows scientists—and laypeople—to understand and contextualize the “true” colors of aquatic phenomena like fish, coral, and anemones. Sea-Thru was developed by Derya Akkaynak and Tali Treibitz and is a more accurate re-reading of colors, rather than editing tones artificially in Photoshop.

In the paper’s abstract, the duo explain that the way colors come through underwater is not uniform (which is why the aforementioned Photoshop doctoring isn’t accurate). Rather, the distance from the lens and the reflectivity of the captured object determines how its colors appear. So, the way sand appears is differently modulated by the water than, say the scales on a fish passing above the sand. Sea-Thru uses an algorithm to accurately and efficiently adjust images taken underwater.

See the algorithm in action in the video below from Scientific American, and read Akkaynak and Treibitz’s full paper here. (via PetaPixel)

 

 

 

 



Illustration

Deep Ocean Waters Amplify Emotions in Sonia Alins’ Evocative Mixed Media Illustrations

July 25, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

“The swimmers III. The gathering”

Illustrator Sonia Alins (previously) creates evocative aquatic scenes using a combination of two and three dimensional elements. Smooth, translucent vellum creates the visual effect of water, and Alins sometimes inserts tufts of colored thread or small sheets of tulle to invoke the ocean floor’s textural topography. Alins then creates carefully placed slits in the vellum to allow her figurative illustrations to peek through the water. Swimming women and the occasional whale move through the murky water, with expressions ranging from peacefulness to mild distress. In an interview with Sara Barnes, Alins explained her deep connection to the water:

I was born near the Mediterranean sea and the influence of it and water in my culture is something defining. I guess it’s part of my DNA. The truth is that the sea has always been present in my life and has transmitted a special and positive energy to me. When taking the first steps of my Dones d’aigua series, water came to me as the perfect medium to communicate and expand emotion. The protagonists of my works interact with this mass of water where they are immersed and, there, their feelings are amplified, their shouts are heard louder, their desperation is felt more profoundly… But also, when they are calm, it feels like a more rewarding emotion too.

The Spain-based artist’s minimal yet impactful style lends itself to literary and editorial illustrations, and Alins has received several advertising and book awards for her work. You can explore more of Alins’ aquatic worlds on Instagram and Behance, and shop prints and products in her Society6 store.

“What I learnt from whales” series

“Dones d’aigua III” series

“The Swimmers”

“The Swimmers” (detail)

“What I learnt from whales” series

“Dones d’aigua III” series

 

 



Design

Europe’s First Underwater Restaurant Doubles as a Marine Research Center

March 20, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

At Under, a new restaurant completed by architecture and design firm Snøhetta (previously), splashes of aquamarine light dance across tabletops and dishes. This greenish blue hue is emitted from a portal at the front of the space that, as its name suggests, peers underwater and into the depths of the North Sea. The half-sunken restaurant is located at the southernmost tip of Norway, with one side of the structure built into the coastline, and the other resting against the seabed.

Snøhetta Founder and Architect, Kjetil Trædal Thorsen explains that the new building “challenges what determines a person’s physical placement in their environment.” In this building,” he continues, “you may find yourself under water, over the seabed, between land and sea. This will offer you new perspectives and ways of seeing the world, both beyond and beneath the waterline.”

In addition to serving as a restaurant, the submerged building also functions as a marine research center. Interdisciplinary research teams will be invited to study the surrounding the biodiversity found along the southern coast, with the goal of building a machine learning tool that will monitor and track the species at regular intervals. Under’s design was also planned with these populations in mind. The building was built to function as an artificial coral reef, and will become integrated into the sea as limpets, kelp, and other underwater life begin to grow from its concrete shell.

The underwater restaurant opens for its first service today, and will seat 35-40 guests nightly. You can see more images from the new restaurant and learn about its menu on their website. (via Dezeen)

 

 



Amazing

A Specially Adapted Underwater Wheelchair Brings Artist Sue Austin Beneath the Earth’s Surface

November 16, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

British artist Sue Austin creates multimedia, performance, and installation art, using her wheelchair as a means to explore new patterns of movement. In 2012, Austin was commissioned to create a series of multimedia events as part of that year’s Cultural Olympiad, in conjunction with the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. The result, titled “Creating the Spectacle!” is a spectacular immersive dance performance and underwater exploration, which was shot near Sharm el Sheik, Egypt by Norman Lomax of Moving Content. You can watch a portion of the film below.

In the film, Austin uses her arms to guide her through the water, and she wears a summery dress with her long hair flowing freely, as she navigates through schools of fish and past massive coral reefs. Her underwater wheelchair is adapted from a standard-issue National Health Service chair, with battery powered propellers and perspex aerofoils to control turns. Austin hopes that the adaptations will be more widely available at diving centers in the future to make diving more inclusive.

A statement on her website explains, “she aims to find dramatic and powerful ways to re-position disability and Disability Arts as the ‘Hidden Secret’. She argues that this ‘secret’, if explored, valued and then shared, can act to heal the divisions created in the social psyche by cultural dichotomies that define the ‘disabled’ as ‘other’.”

Austin first performed with her underwater wheelchair in Dorset, U.K. in 2012, and has since performed, shown films, and spoken around the world about her art practice. You can learn more about Austin and her organization Freewheeling, on her website, and watch her TED Talk here. (via #WOMENSART)

 

 



Science

These Sneaky Sea Slugs Paralyze Their Predators With Stolen “Weapons”

August 30, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Nudibranchs, or sea slugs, and are group of wildly colored animals that use their striking forms to warn predators against attack. Although the sea slugs move slow, they are protected by a brilliant defense mechanism. Some species create an alarming defense by stealing “weapons” from another creature called a hydroid. These plant-like animals may appear like seaweed, but they are actually a jellyfish relative covered in stingers packed with a paralyzing venom.

Instead of being repelled by the dangerous tentacles covering the hydroids’ bodies, nudibranchs devour them. Once swallowed, some of the immature stingers are passed directly into their digestion system and are stored in their spikes. If a sea slug feels threatened, these stingers are deployed for an overwhelming punch of stolen venom. For more information on nudibranchs and their sneaky defense system, view this article from KQED Deep Look. (via The Kid Should See This)

A nudibranch devouring a hydroid

 

 



Photography

Jewels in the Night Sea: Luminous Plankton Captured in the Dark Waters off the South Coast of Japan

August 17, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Larval fish of Dendrochirus, all images copyright Ryo Minemizu

Larval fish of Dendrochirus, all images copyright Ryo Minemizu

Japanese marine life photographer Ryo Minemizu focuses his lens on some of the tiniest and most abundant life forms in our oceans. His series Phenomenons explores the diverse beauty and extravagant colors of plankton, and is shot amongst the dark waters of the Osezaki sea near Mount Fuji and other coasts around Japan, the Philippines and Maldives. To capture the small creatures Minemizu sets his shutter speed to just a fraction of a second, while ensuring that his own movements don’t disturb the surrounding organisms.

“Plankton symbolize how precious life is by their tiny existence,” he explains. “I wanted other people to see them as they are in the sea, so it was my motivation from the beginning to shoot plankton underwater, which is quite a challenge. Most plankton are small, and their movements are hard to predict.”

His solo exhibition Jewels in the Night Sea begins a three-city tour at Canon Gallery in Ginza, Tokyo from August 20-29, 2018. It will then move to Cannon galleries in Nagoya and Osaka from September 6-12 and September 20-26, 2018. You can see more of Minemizu’s underwater photography on Instagram and Twitter. Select prints from his Phenomenons series are available in his online shop. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

Unknown a larval Gymnapogon

Unknown a larval Gymnapogon

Batesian mimicry, larval fish of Soleichthys

Batesian mimicry, larval fish of Soleichthys

Larval Tripod fish

Larval Tripod fish

The Paralepididae

The Paralepididae

Hyperiidea on Nausithoe jellyfish

Hyperiidea on Nausithoe jellyfish

Larval Barred soapfish

Larval Barred soapfish

The paddle of zoea larva of Lysmata

The paddle of zoea larva of Lysmata

Megalopa larva of Eplumula phalangium

Megalopa larva of Eplumula phalangium

Larva of Pleurobranchaea

Larva of Pleurobranchaea