Close-up photos of 50 creatures—gathered, mostly, from ocean deeps—demonstrate that even our own planet’s residents can look really, really alien.
The main event is prefaced by an introductory essay explaining the photographers’ methods as well as the mechanisms of bioluminescence and other adaptations to deep sea conditions. The following picture gallery features full-page side or front views of animals ranging from bulbous sea cucumbers and sea anemones to an exaggeratedly toothy viperfish, a writhing benthic octopus and a furry crustacean evocatively dubbed a yeti crab. Captions note each creature’s diet, habitat, scientific name (if any—several are too newly discovered to have an official one) and physical characteristics. As the specimens were all photographed not in natural settings but on the surface under controlled conditions, each is suspended against a solid black background and brightly, evenly lit. Though it’s impossible to tell which parts glow naturally, subtle colors shine, and complex surface features are thrown into high relief. The portraits all look about the same size, though the original subjects were between 3 feet and 1/24th of an inch in length.
Eerie, riveting eye candy for budding biologists and casual browsers alike (though it is a shame there is no bibliography). (index) (Nonfiction. 7-11)