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Posted by on Feb 23, 2014 in Beautiful Sunday, Endless Forms, Nature | 1 comment

Beautiful Sunday: Sapphire from the Sea

Here’s something beautiful to start your day .. go full screen to really see its magic:

(Video: Liquidguru )

That’s a Sapphirina copepod (Sappharina spp), sometimes called a Sea Sapphire.  Last week R.R Helm over at Deep Sea News posted the above video and explained what sea sapphires are —

The small creature I’d found was a Sapphirina copepod, or as I like to call it, a sea sapphire. Copepods are the rice of the sea, tiny shrimp-like animals at the base of the ocean food chain…The reason for their shimmering beauty is both complex and mysterious, relating to their unique social behavior and strange crystalline skin…

The secret to the sea sapphire’s shine is in microscopic layers of crystal plates inside their cells. In the case of blue sea sapphires, these crystal layers are separated by only about four ten thousandths of a millimeter; about the same distance as a wavelength of blue light. When blue light bounces off these crystal layers, it is perfectly preserved and reflected. But for other colors of light, these small differences in distance interfere, causing the colors to cancel out. So while white light is composed of all colors, only blue light is reflected back. This type of coloration is known as structural coloration, and though resembling a gem in hue, a sea sapphire’s color has more in common with an oil sheen than a pigmented jewel. Combine this nifty trick with the sea sapphire’s impressively transparent body, and you have an animal as radiant as a star in one moment, and invisible in the next.

How cool is that?   Read more at Deep Sea News: The Most Beautiful Animal You’ve Never Seen

1 Comment

  1. And imagine if we could emulate this “color producing” trick. Textile designers emulated the scale structure of a blue morpho butterfly and created a beautiful shimmering blue cloth without dyes. What challenges could this iridescent lovely help us solve?
    Thanks for the post!

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