Alien life

Moon jellyfish

Yesterday’s Guardian featured a jellyfish slide show, which included the above spectacular shot (photographed by diver Alexander Semenov). This looks exactly like Moon Jellies From Outer Space, orbiting Earth. Seriously, I’m waiting for the starship Enterprise to appear in the frame at any moment. If I could find a bigger version, this would be one of my all-time favorite wallpapers.

The full slide show is here, and packed with lovely photos. There are a few errors, however: on the image above (slide 9), the caption misidentifies the jellies as lion’s manes. They’re not; they’re moon jellies (Aurelia aurita). Also, the last two images are not jellyfish at all; they’re ctenophores, a completely different phylum from that containing jellyfish (which are cnidarians). Jellyfish subdue their prey with stinging cells, while comb jellies lack them. Many species of comb jellies, such as the one featured in the final photo (slide 14), simply engulf their prey with mouths that open to the diameter of their bodies. I always thought that would be such a convenient way of eating! Just open your mouth and drop an entire pizza in, to digest at your leisure.

Jellyfish — both true jellies and comb jellies — are such cool creatures.

UPDATE: Lilaine, commenter and computer geek extraordinaire, has come up with the wallpaper. I already have it on my desktop.

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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7 Responses to Alien life

  1. Lilaine says:

    … and Oregon-Expat —both science-geek and writer — is such a cool blogger. 😉

    Lilaine, not looking forward to swimming in a Jellyfish-crowded sea, next spring and summer… 😮

  2. Archivistwolf says:

    “Encounter at Farpoint”, indeed.

  3. Jorge says:

    Am trying to wrap my head around this shot, without success. OK, it’s shot from under water (well, duh!), close to the surface, allowing us to see the clouds. But what the heck is that black area? It can’t be simply the sea; that’d be blue…

    Confused.

    • oregon expat says:

      My guess is that since the camera was set to capture the (very bright compared to underwater) sky, that setting underexposed the water part, leaving it black. The jellies stand out because a flash was used on them, but the flash would do nothing for the water itself. Essentially, the underwater part turned into a silhouette.

      • Inge says:

        Correct.

      • Jorge says:

        Hm… the only photos where I’ve seen something even remotely similar are those where the sun is shining directly on the lens (such as this one: http://www.oceanlight.com/stock-photo/beautiful-underwater-sunburst-image-27570-789301.jpg ). Then again, this should depend strongly on the depth the camera is at: under water light attenuates fast. On the other hand I would expect much more graduality, not that crisp boundary between sea and sky — after all, the lens isn’t *at* the surface, but below the surface; and since the shot is from below, one should see the surface itself melting away in the distance, if you know what I mean.

        So the flash part of it, yeah, makes sense. The rest? Not so much. For me, at least.

        Still confused.

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