Friday, September 26, 2008

Sea Star

A sea star thriving on the sea floor in Puget Sound, Washington. My dive light illuminates its central disc and many arms. Sea stars are among the class of life forms called Asteroidea, comprising at least 1,500 species who have evolved in the oceans for something like 200 million years.

Sea stars appear motionless unless you slow down, vent all the air from your bouyancy vest and lay on the sea floor to watch closely for a minute or two; then you see that they are in fact in motion, crawling along on the most delicate hundreds of tube feet imaginable, one tiny measure at a time.

The photo, by Todd Olson, is one moment of a long dive rich with marine life, including octopus and wolf eel. Seeing them in their natural environment is particularly special; as Jacques Cousteau pointed out, "No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea. And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal."

No comments: