Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
Photo by David Liittschwager/National Geographic

Sea life: Up close and personal with octopuses, seahorses and jellyfish

Published: 06th April, 2022 at 07:00
Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

Acclaimed National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager has captured three notoriously mysterious sea creatures and their enigmatic beauty, showcased in his new book.

Scientists estimate that 90 per cent of species in the ocean have yet to be classified. While researchers continue to explore the oceans, they are in a battle with time as the planet loses species to human activity such as oil spills, global warming, plastic waste and other pollution.

Advertisement

In Octopus, Seahorse, Jellyfish, acclaimed National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager has been able to capture three notoriously mysterious sea creatures in amazing detail.

Liittschwager has spent 12 years working on this book. During this project he traveled to more than 28 locations around the world. The images in this book are edited from the 135,000 exposures of nearly 500 specimens he photographed, using a white background and a portable studio setup to capture the smallest of details, including small hairs and translucent tissues.

Paired with Liittschwager’s extraordinary photography are essays by bestselling science writers Elizabeth Kolbert, Jennifer Holland and Olivia Judson, which further explain the biology of these surprising creatures and how they navigate their world.

"The world is an amazing place." Liittschwager tells Science Focus. "A pregnant male seahorse, a shape-shifting octopus, and a jellyfish that can cleave off a piece of itself to make another are all wondrous." But his project is by no means finished with the publication of this book. "I am now 60 and I have been working on this since I was a teenager. I have always been interested in trying to see more. More resolution, more fidelity."

With this book, he aims to highlight what we could lose if we fail to protect our oceans from pollution. Take a look at some of our favourite images from the book.

Octopuses

This pale octopus (Octopus pallidus) was collected on a dive near Sorrento, Australia, and now resides at the Moonlight Bay Resort, Victoria, Australia. Photo by David Liittschwager/National Geographic
This undescribed species, found at the Pacific side of the Nicaraguan coast, was photographed at the University of California, USA. Photo by David Liittschwager/National Geographic
The wunderpus Octopus (Wunderpus photogenicus) is a small-bodied octopus with very distinctive brown and white striped colourings. This individual was photographed at UC Berkeley, California, USA. Photo by David Liittschwager/National Geographic

The night octopus (Callistoctopus ornatus), photographed at Kahala Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. Given its name, it is perhaps unsurprising to know that this species is nocturnal. Photo by David Liittschwager/National Geographic

Seahorses

A weedy seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus) photographed at the aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California. Despite its slender appearance, this species of sea dragon is actually relatively slow-moving. Photo by David Liittschwager/National Geographic
A captive-bred male pot-bellied Seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis) with newly born juveniles. Once the juvenile seahorses are born, parental care ends, as the young are born fully self-sufficient. Photographed at Seahorse World, Beauty Point, Tasmania, Australia. Photo by David Liittschwager/National Geographic
A male and female Pacific seahorse (Hippocampus ingens) snuggle together at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California, USA. Photo by David Liittschwager/National Geographic

More image galleries from Science Focus:

Advertisement

Jellyfish

A flame jellyfish (Rhopilema esculentum), measuring 89mm in length, is shown here at Kamo Aquarium, Tsuruoka, Yamagata, Japan. This species of jellyfish is native to the warm seas of the Pacific Ocean. Photo by David Liittschwager/National Geographic
The recently discovered psychedelic jellyfish (Crossota millsae) adult is pictured with a juvenile aboard the ship Western Flyer above the Monterey Canyon, California, USA. The species has been found in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, but is most abundant off the Californian coast. Photo by David Liittschwager/National Geographic
A South American sea nettle (Chrysaora plocamia) photographed at Kamo Aquarium, Tsuruoka, Yamagata, Japan. This species is usually found on the coasts of Peru, Argentina and Chile. Photo by David Liittschwager/National Geographic
The distinctive golden-brown colouring of these Pacific sea nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens) is demonstrated clearly in this image, photographed at Kamo Aquarium, Tsuruoka, Yamagata, Japan. Photo by David Liittschwager/National Geographic

Octopus, Seahorse, Jellyfish by David Liittschwager is published on 26 May 2022. (£30, National Geographic)

Read more about amazing sea life here:

Authors

James CutmorePicture Editor, BBC Science Focus

James Cutmore is the picture editor of BBC Science Focus Magazine, researching striking images for the magazine and on the website. He is also has a passion for taking his own photographs

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content