A Diatom Helix

A spiraled diatom with spines.
Wim van Egmond / Nikon Small World

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.