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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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July 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 30, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Spineless: A Spectacular Look at Marine Invertebrates

from the July, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

In Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates, the Backbone of Life, acclaimed photographer Susan Middleton captures "the haute couture of marine life -- nudibranchs, jellies, octopuses, sea stars, crabs, anemones, coral, worms, shrimp, clams, sea urchins, cowries and sea nymphs, to name but a few of the creatures whose spectacular bodies defy description. Astonishingly diverse in their shapes, patterns, textures and colors, marine invertebrates are mostly invisible to our eyes, living their lives predominantly beneath the surface of the ocean."

Spineless: A Spectacular LookThat's the description on the cover notes of this stunning new 256-page coffee-table book that captures these critters in ways we've never imagined. To continue from the notes, "This collection of more than 150 remarkable images was obtained using special photographic techniques developed by Middleton to best capture these extremely fragile -- and often tiny -- creatures on camera. Vivid portraits reveal the exceptional qualities of these animals, including the startling variety in their design and construction. Each image is a portrait of a unique individual, unlike any other, with features and gestures all its own. With these gorgeous images, Middleton not only makes us keenly aware of the stark reality about why we are losing so many of these animals to environmental destruction, but she also helps us to discern why it matters.

Middleton's engaging essays present marine invertebrates as the protagonists in the unfolding drama of life on earth, and examine how they acquired their vast array of body designs as well as the underlying unity that drives this spectacular diversity of lifestyles. Two species were actually "discovered" during the course of this project.

While a provocative coffee-table book, serious divers with an eye for the spineless creatures of the seas will find the photos astonishing and the discussions enlightening. Purchase it through Undercurrent at (you'll go to, and the commission we earn will go to various projects to save coral reefs.

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