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Finding Little Gems in the Sea

A collage of the wildlife found in one cubic foot on the reef near Moorea, French Polynesia.


© David Liittschwager/National Geographic

This month, our friends at National Geographic are featuring Smithsonian's own bio-scavenger, Chris Meyer and his work in one of our favorite places: Moorea, French Polynesia. In a beautiful meld of art and science, photographer David Liittschwager traveled to Moorea and four other locations to snap portraits of all the life forms he could find in a cubic foot of space. On the reef near Moorea, he encountered an array of marine life from spectacular fire clams to bizarre polychaete worms. In all, more than a thousand individual organisms were photographed. "It was like finding little gems," Liittschwager says.

The full feature is in the February issue of National Geographic Magazine, but you can whet your appetite online with some of the beautiful photographs and an essay by E.O. Wilson, an icon of biodiversity conservation and the grandfather of the Encyclopedia of Life.

Can’t get enough of Moorea? Check out our science feature, Casting a Wide Net to find out more about the island and ground-breaking, international research happening there. And read more about why studying and preserving our ocean's biodiversity is important.

Categories: News