Thursday, December 22, 2011

'Single cells, single cells, plankton all the way'... Christmas card made from tiny sea creatures


Christmas tree of life: Every festive symbol on Dr Richard Kirby's card is made from plankton. The paddle worm Tomopteris Helgolandica looks like a Christmas tree

It certainly is a Christmas card with a difference.

A marine scientist has produced this incredible Christmas card made from his own pictures of plankton.

Dr Richard Kirby has created a festive scene including a decorated Christmas tree, bells, angels and even the Star of Bethlehem.

Because the remarkable creatures come in so many shapes, sizes and colours the academic has been able to form them into a classic card.

Included in the card are the paddle worm helgolandica, which looks like a Christmas tree.

Key: Because of the reaction to his special Christmas card Dr Richard Kirby is considering putting it on sale next year

There are bells made from the jellyfish Aglanthe digital held together by rings of the phytoplankton Eucampia zodiacus.

Illuminated candles are the larva of the starfish Luidia ciliaris and the star on top of the tree is a juvenile Luidia ciliaris.

The angels are sea angels, Clione limacina, and the fairy lights are Protozoan acantharea.

The Star of Bethlehem is a worm larva and the sky is filled with snowflakes that are actually baby starfish.

Dr Kirby, from Plymouth University, said: 'I was looking through the photographs of plankton and some reminded me of Christmas.

Creative: Dr Richard Kirby said it was the success of his book 'Ocean Drifters - a secret world beneath the waves' which prompted him to create the image

'The variety is incredible and if you look at them with a festive eye you can see all sorts of things.

'Many people have remarked how certain plankton remind them of other things, so I've collated several pictures to make a classic Christmas card.

'The importance of these micro marvels in the sea can't be underestimated.

'Their importance on a global scale is obvious when you realize that 50 per cent of the world's photosynthesis takes place in the surface of the sea, drawing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the oceans and releasing oxygen.

'When you turn on the oven to cook the Christmas turkey, the gas comes from plankton that sank to the seafloor over hundreds of millions of years of earth's history.

'So when you drive your car to the festive family gathering it is all thanks to the processed plankton that fuel it.'

The worldwide success of Dr Kirby's book called 'Ocean Drifters - a secret world beneath the waves' prompted him to create the image which he may put on sale next year.

source : dailymail

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