Captured: corals and sponges in motion

Film on corals and sponges

Have you ever wondered what living corals and sponges look like? Not at a glance, as you swim past, but up close. Really close.

Daniel Stoupin is an Australia-based nature cinematographer, photographer and artist who is currently working on his PhD in marine biology. He filmed “Slow Life”, which details slow marine animals that show their secret life under high magnification. “Corals and sponges build coral reefs and play crucial roles in the biosphere, yet we know little about their daily lives,” he wrote in the notes on this film. “These animals are actually very mobile creatures, however their motion is only detectable at different time scales compared to ours and requires time lapses to be seen.

Make sure you watch Daniel’s video on a large screen… it’s absolutely beautiful!

“Slow” marine life is particularly mysterious. As colorful, bizarre-looking, and environmentally important as we know corals and sponges are, their simple day-to-day life is hidden.  We know some bits about their biochemistry, corals’ interaction withzooxanthella algae, their life cycles, and systematics. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell what we don’t know about the rest, and particularly when it comes to interaction with other organisms happening over long periods of time.

Time lapse cinematography reveals a whole different world full of hypnotic motion and my idea was to make coral reef life more spectacular and thus closer to our awareness. I had a bigger picture in my mind for my clip. But after many months of processing hundreds of thousands of photos and trying to capture various elements of coral and sponge behavior I realized that I have to take it one step at a time. For now, the clip just focuses on beauty of microscopic reef “landscapes.” The close-up patterns and colors of this type of fauna hardly resemble anything from the terrestrial environments. Corals become even less familiar if you consider their daily “activities.”

To continue reading Daniel Stoupin’s notes on his film, please click here.

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