A Diatom Helix

This beautiful marine diatom Chaetoceros debilis was caught in the North Sea. Not only are diatoms one of the most important oxygen producers on earth, they are also a vital link in the food chain. This spiraled diatom has cell walls made of silica, each containing a cell that glitters like gold and spiky spines that help it stay afloat. This image, taken at 250x zoom, took 1st place in the 2013 Nikon Small World photomicrography competition.

A spiraled diatom with spines.

Wim van Egmond / Nikon Small World