Small Wonders in the Water

The Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition puts a spotlight on the world’s best pictures of small wonders in fields ranging from biology to materials science. To whet your appetite for the next crop of winners, Nikon has put together a summertime selection of eight photomicrographs of aquatic subjects.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water … here’s a picture of the pectoral fin of a whitespotted bamboo shark embryo (Chiloscyllium plagiosum). The image was captured by the University of Cambridge’s Andrew Gillis using stereomicroscopy with fiber-optic lighting. (Dr. Andrew Gillis / University of Cambridge)

A freshwater flea (Daphnia magna) is festooned with a feathery tuft of hair in this photomicrograph, entered in the Nikon Small World contest by Joan Rohl of the Institute for Biochemistry and Biology in Potsdam, Germany. Rohl used differential interference contrast to produce this effect. (Joan Rohl / Institute for Biochemistry and Biology)

A water flea (Daphnia sp.) seems to be juggling round balls of green algae (Volvox sp.) in this darkfield photomicrograph, entered in the Nikon Small World competition by Ralf Wagner of Dusseldorf, Germany. (Ralf Wagner / Nikon Small World)

Two freshwater ciliates (Nassula ornata) engage in conjugation in this Nikon Small World photomicrograph, entered by Gerd A. Guenther of Dusseldorf, Germany. Conjugation is part of the reproductive process for one-celled protozoa. This image was produced using differential interference contrast. (Gerd A. Guenther / Nikon Small World)

Not bad for a lousy picture: Wim van Egmond of the Micropolitan Museum in the Dutch city of Rotterdam entered this darkfield photomicrograph of a fish louse (Argulus) in the Nikon Small World contest. Argulus lice pose a major threat to fish health, because of direct tissue damage as well as secondary infections. (Wim van Egmond / Micropolitan Micropolitan Museum)

This bdelloid rotifer (Philodina roseola) shines in many colors, thanks to the video-enhanced polychromatic polarized-light microscopy method used to create the picture. The researchers behind the Nikon Small World image are Michael Shribak and Irina Arkhipova of the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory. Bdelloid rotifers are ancient species, known for asexual reproduction – which has led biologists to joke that the creatures have gone without sex for 80 million years. (Michael Shribak and Irina Arkhipova / Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole)

The eye of a giant water flea (Leptodora kindtii) stares into the microscope for this Nikon Small World image, captured by the Micropolitan Museum’s Wim van Egmond. Differential interference contrast was used to create a sharp rendering of the eye. (Wim van Egmond / Micropolitan Museum)

A hydra captures a water flea in this darkfield photomicrograph, created by Charles Krebs. Fleas and small worms are the favorite foods for the carnivorous hydra. (Charles Krebs / Charles Krebs Photography, Issaq)

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