2023 Edition

Franco Banfi

Tiny Umbrella, 2018

Tasiilaq, East Greenland

Category - Polar Wonders

Category Winner
Tiny Umbrella, 2018

A tiny benthic hydromedusa (Ptychogastria polaris) with a bell size of less than one centimetre is a piece of art. It is one of the many gelatinous representatives of the 1 000 species of hydro- and scypho-medusae, probably with more to be discovered, especially in deep or polar waters. Even though they develop at -2°C in salty ocean water, they do not have time to freeze. They float under a thick layer of ice and catch small phytoplankton and other nutrients with specialized stinging cells called nematocysts. Under the cold blanket of ice that forms on the sea every winter, life in the ocean goes on. Observing this tiny gem in the water column is difficult because it goes unnoticed, due to its small size. They are easier to sight and to report when they sit directly on the seafloor or hover a few centimetres above it.

8-15 mm f/4 Lens - 1/100 sec at f/16 ISO 800