This weeks VOTW is different. Morphologic Studios is the name of the laboratory of biologist Colin Foord and musician Jare McKay. They make incredible 1 min HD clips of living coral reefs and I picked some of my favorites to showcase here.
MORPHOLOGIC is a scientific art endeavor led by marine biologist Colin Foord and musician Jared McKay. With the aquarium as our primary medium, we explore the artistic possibilities of living coral reef organisms via HD videography and site-specific artworks. Our laboratory/studio is a state certified aquaculture facility perpetuating marine life within the confines of downtown Miami. Working in conjunction with biologists from the Université de Provence in Marseille, France, we are developing a living genetic database, aquaculture techniques, and biological assays of coral species.
Here we look into the face of the thorny oyster (Spondylus americanus). Unlike most shallow-water oyster species, the thorny oyster is a solitary creature that lives permanently cemented to the deeper coral reef. Its fleshy mantle is adorned with sepia-toned psychedelic camouflage that can vary widely from one individual to the next. The rim of the mantle is lined with dozens of eyes that stare out into the depths. These eyes are quite simple, only detecting changes in light that might suggest an incoming predator. If a threat is detected, the oyster will quickly snap its two shells together, sealing the animal inside with its two powerful adductor muscles. It is the adductor muscle that people eat when they eat 'oysters on the half shell'. Oysters are filter feeders, spending their time siphoning water through gills that strain out particulate matter. As seen in the film, the oyster periodically expels waste and water with a quick contraction of its adductor muscles.
The sun anemone shrimp (Periclimenes rathbunae) is the least common of the three species of Floridian anemone shrimp. While the other two anemone shrimp (P. pedersoni and P. yucatanicus) act as cleaners to passing fish, the sun anemone shrimp doesn't seem to engage in this behavior. Instead, it spends its time living almost exclusively upon its namesake sun anemone (Stichodactyla helianthus). Aquarium observations suggest that this shrimp may supplement its diet by occasionally nipping off and eating the tentacles of the anemone. This parasitism suggests a more complicated symbiotic relationship than the sort of simple mutualism that these shrimp are often categorized by.
Once again we return to observe a cryptic red decorator crab (Leptopsia setirostris); this time living upon, and decorated with, zoanthid polyps (Zoanthus sociatus), close cousins to both sea anemones and corals. Zoanthus in Latin literally means 'animal flower'. The species name sociatus refers to the fact they these flower animals live socially in dense groupings of identical polyps.
In this video a single Corynactis viridis corallimorph polyp (about 8mm in diameter) is seen capturing and digesting tiny plankton as they flow past in the current. As the tentacles capture food, they retract towards the animal's mouth, located at the center of the polyp. The mouth is likewise transformable; capable of extending, expanding, and enveloping food items. The total elapsed time was roughly 12 minutes and sped up 1200% in order to demonstrate the hydraulic muscular contractions and contortions that the polyp goes through while feeding. 470nm LED light is used to highlight the fluorescent orange ring around the outer diameter of the polyp.
Thanks to Trey Radcliffe for the link.