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A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words

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How do scientists get those up-close, detailed photos of animals from the deep-sea?  You know - the ones that you see in books and movies. This was one of the questions my students asked before I came on the trip.  We have an excellent photographer/videographer on board the DEEPEND research ship.  Dr. Dante Fenolio is a zoologist and a world renowned photographer who serves as the VP of Conservation and Research at the San Antonio Zoo.    He has even published a book called Life in the Dark.  For his book he traveled to many locations around the globe searching out animals that live in darkness.  A section of the book highlights deep-ocean life and many photos were taken while aboard a previous DEEPEND research cruise.

 When the nets come in from the trawl Dr. Fenolio eagerly awaits to see what new specimens might be brought in and to see what shape they are in.  Undocumented species not collected on previous trips and without net damage are pulled out from the sorting trays.  They are logged into the database and taken up to the photo lab to be photographed before being processed for DNA.


 In the lab, the windows are blacked out and a black cloth is placed in the background.  A small paint brush may be used to brush off and clean any debris from the animal.  Dr. Fenolio also uses special V-shaped water tanks to help hold the organisms in place for a more natural look.  He takes several shots of each organism from many different angles.  Sometimes this is very difficult when the ship is rocking back and forth and the water is sloshing in the tanks.  The photos are then uploaded to a computer.  Any minor imperfections can be edited out with computer software. 


 Here are some photos from a behind the scenes look at his photo lab set-up here on the RV Point Sur.


Logging the specimens.


Capturing shots of the specimen.


Present Captain Nick Allen a copy of his book.


 Here are some examples of his work.





Gigantura composite



 Hope you enjoyed these pictures. 

Teacher At Sea,

Christia Hewlett

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Guest Wednesday, 17 July 2024