Call Toll Free:
Sea Life 2013
Under the sea, plants and animals are often quite remarkable. In underwater images taken around the world, photographer Foster Bam captures fascinating examples of sea life, which are described by Dr. John McCosker, director emeritus of the California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium. Sea Life features 24 photos—a major and a minor photo each month. Prepare to dive!
14 x 22 inches, open
After descending to the bottom of a tropical coral reef most scuba divers spend the next 60 minutes swimming to-and-fro in the wonderland before them. Others prefer to find a comfortable reef to safely sit upon, decrease their buoyancy, and spend the remainder of their dive in patient observation. Those that maximize the geographic experience see a variety of wonderful things and the posterior end of many departing fishes. Those that adopt the latter strategy discover that fish will be attracted to them and the bubbles they make and go about their normal behavior. During my half century of diving I've tried both strategies. During the contemplative mode, I've had curious reef denizens gaze at their reflections in my face mask, and on such an occasion I have heard Bogey's unique voice in my head saying, "Here's looking at you, kid."
Vision is important to all shallow water reef fishes and many invertebrates and is the primary sense that allows them to differentiate friend from foe and potential predators from possible prey. It is difficult for a human to appreciate the abundance of sensory stimuli that abound underwater. While we are largely insensitive to the role of sounds, smells, tastes, magnetism, and electricity that informs sea animals about their surroundings, we do appreciate vision. Animals, particularly in clear tropical waters where photographer Foster Bam dove to collect these photos, also depend on sight, and many possess both rods for low light-level vision and cones to capture the colors and hues so resplendent on a coral reef. Vision has independently evolved in the sea on several occasions, such that mollusks, arthropods, and vertebrates have benefited from having eyes, albeit by different anatomical design.
We ask you to look carefully at each month's offerings to better understand what the creatures are seeing in a world where red light is mostly removed from the visible spectrum. Examine the shape and size of fish eyes and pupils and relate that to the size and shape of their adjacent mouths. Look at their livery and consider the role of camouflage for both predator and prey. And what of those colorful animals like sea slugs and feather stars that lack eyes? Why are they so colorful?
In San Francisco, the Steinhart Aquarium of the California Academy of Sciences has a myriad of colorful characters for you to ponder and enjoy every day of the year. We explain the marvels and mysteries of life on Earth and allow you to take a deep sea dive without getting wet. To find out more visit www.calacademy.org.
–John E. McCosker
California Academy of Sciences