First announced in 2004, the Olympus BioScapes International Digital Imaging Competition, sponsored by Olympus America Inc. has become a yearly event honouring the world’s most extraordinary microscope images of life science subjects.
The competition recognizes outstanding images of life science specimens captured through light microscopes, using any magnification, any illumination technique and any brand of equipment.
“Microscope images forge an extraordinary bond between science and art,” said Hidenao Tsuchiya, President, Olympus Corporation of the Americas. “We founded this competition to focus on the fascinating stories coming out of today’s life science research laboratories.” Adding, “We look at BioScapes and these beautiful images as sources of education and inspiration to us and the world.”
2012 competition – aquatic organisms.
Aquatic organisms are often the subjects of competition entries, five out of the ten winners along with 19 out of the 64 honourable mentions featured aquatic subjects. The resultant images represent a meeting of biological science and art; they are often beautiful, sometimes bizarre, but nevertheless interesting, giving us a glimpse into the usually unseen world of the microscopic.
I’ve searched through the winners and honourable mentions from this year’s competition, announced in early December 2012, to bring you the following collection of aquatic images, adding explanatory comments about the organism in question wherever possible.
Mr. Ralph Grimm
To learn more about rotifers in connection to the reef aquarium, see Reef Ramblings.
Scagelia is a genus of Rhodophyta or red algae.
Phronima species are deep-sea amphipods and, according to German wildlife photographer Solvin Zankl, provided the inspiration behind the creature in the Alien movies.
The genus Micrasterias belongs to the Desmidiales an order of green algae found mostly in fresh water and often referred to as Desmids. Around 0.35mm in size, they display an attractive bilateral symmetry, with two mirror-image sections joined by a narrow bridge containing the nucleus.
A common, free-living reef aquarium coral. To learn more see, ‘The Fungiids – the Plate or Mushroom Corals‘
The zebrafish, Danio rerio, a tropical freshwater fish, is an important model organism, widely used in scientific and medical research.
Vorticella is a genus of protozoa, mostly freshwater. They are inverted, bell-shaped ciliates, anchored to a substrate by a stalk.
Autofluorescence is natural emission of light; the colouration is not artificially induced.
Diatoms are a major group of algae, and are one of the most common types of phytoplankton. They are characterised by a cell wall made of silica.
A common freshwater planktonic crustacean belonging to the order Cladocera
Volvox is a genus of freshwater green algae that forms spherical colonies of up to 50,000 cells.
Birefringence, or double refraction, is the property or capacity of splitting a beam of light into two beams, each refracted at a different angle, and each polarized at a right angle to the other. Certain crystals such as calcite and quartz have this property.
Species of the genus Pyxicola are sessile, freshwater ciliates with an elongated, vase-shaped appearance. Size around 70-120 microns in height and 25-40 microns in width.
A typical adaptation in filter feeding species
Stentor is a genus of freshwater filter feeding, heterotrophic ciliate protists, usually horn-shaped, and reaching lengths of up to two millimetres.
To reef keepers the most familiar tunicates are the Ascidiacea, or Sea squirts, that have a sessile lifestyle. Less well known are the free swimming or pelagic classes of tunicates, the Thaliacea (Pyrosomida, Doliolida, and Salpida) and the Appendicularia (Larvacea).
A genus of sessile, rather than free-swimming, rotifers.
Obelia is a genus of hydrozoan in the phylum Cnidaria, hence related to corals. Hydrozoans differ from corals in having both polyp and medusa stages in their life cycle.
All image copyrights belong to the individual contestants.
Entry deadline for the 2013 competition is September 30, 2013.
First prize is the winner’s choice of Olympus microscope or camera equipment valued at $5,000. Nine additional winners will also receive prizes, and many more will receive recognition as honourable mentions.
Each entrant can submit up to five movies, images, or image sequences. Entries must include information on the importance or “story” behind the images. Winners are notified in late October and are announced publicly in November or December. Selected winning images also become part of a travelling exhibit tour of museums and academic institutions.
To learn more about the BioScapes competition and to see winning entries from previous years, go to http://www.olympusbioscapes.com
Edited and compiled by Tim Hayes