Saturday, 17 September 2011
Hydra - a monstrous freshwater predator
Hydras are perhaps the most well known microscopic freshwater animals, they are one of the most simple multicellular animals that are slightly more complex than sponges. Yet they display a behavior that seems complex, they move a lot, spread their tentacles trying to catch water fleas, and are very gorgeous looking cnidarians.
All pictures posted are single shots, no stacking this time since they never stop moving. I also tried new technique - using electronic flash when taking pictures through a microscope. Really appreciate the help of my friends who worked as flash operators and assisted me in developing an appropriate technique, as well as for providing me with the flashes.
Hydras can take two shapes - either small barrel-looking contracted stage when stressed, or normally they are very long with long tentacles and they move from side to side to increase chances of capturing
Below is another example of a contracted hydra that started expanding its body.
In this example the tentacles moved during the shot and some background light made it visible. You can see the muscle folds.
Shortly after it would look like that
And the last shot, brightfiled version, taken with polarized light. The background is natural, it's just an optical effect caused by the prism that enhances contrast.
The hydra looks even better in videos and I'm about to start making one about microscopic life. However, I feel like deserve a separate video.
All pictures taken with Sony NEX-5 attached to Zeiss Axioscope A1 (5x lens) and electronic flash used in darkfield versions, electronic flashes operated by my friends since NEX-5 doesn't allow to disable pre-flash so it's impossible to synchronize with external ones and I don't have possibilities to buy a synchronizer now.
P.S. Check out my fluorescent hydra in my post which is also available as wallpaper here. + I made another post about hydras.