The Beautiful Microscopic World of Diatoms

in #science6 years ago

When you think about marine biology, most likely images of strange deep sea fish, jellies, cephalopods and so on enter your mind. But the living wealth of our planet's oceans isn't limited to what we can percieve with the unaided eye. A sufficiently close look at seawater or sand reveals that the former is teeming with microorganisms, and the latter is comprised in no small part of their discarded glass shells.

That's right, glass. These protective shells are made from silica. Just as we make glass from sand, so too with diatoms, just by organic methods. The glass shell allows the diatom inside to recieve sunlight which it needs to survive, as diatoms are photosynthetic.

As with any other single celled organism, diatoms reproduce by dividing in two. The newborn diatom is vulnerable, possessing no shell. It must then quickly set about building one for itself if it hopes to survive. Such is the brutality of the natural world, even at scales too small for us to directly witness.

When humanity first undertook the exploration of Earth's oceans in earnest, what naturalist would have imagined that such a wealth of beauty and scientific interest could be found within the sand itself? That even the seafloor, at the microscopic scale, is littered with biological remains one could dedicate their entire scientific career to studying?

It just goes to show that remarkable discoveries can still be made right here on Earth. Often such treasures are hiding in plain sight, in this case right beneath the feet of any given beachgoer. In truth, can't it be said that there is no wrong direction in which to explore? Reality is so rich with wonder, there is no telling where the next natural marvel will be found.


These little gems are amazing and to think of how many lived and died in ancient oceans to build up all the chalk in white cliffs

What we see as chalk, takes on a whole new light when you see it on the right scale. There is all sorts of beauty to be found if you know how to look, all a matter of the right perspective. Theres just so much to love about life and science.

"Little gems". I like that. Unfathomably tiny jewels of nature.

Diatoms are quite beautiful, the first time I ever saw them was in my freshman general biology course in college. We had a lab where we looked at them through old school light microscopes. Your pictures here do justice to what I remember them looking like. Quite beautiful and delicate little things.

mind boggling :) thanks!

Amazing pictures, keep going!

Great picture. Nature really is astounding.

Just more cool shit everywhere we look. Even seemingly mundane places where you wouldn't expect to find anything cool. The joy of discovery is second to none

dude!! Awesome choice of subjects and pics.
truly cool , great job.

Check out my nudibranch article, then. :)

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