The ocean's next top models

Rarely seen little creatures from the ocean depths are now getting their time in the limelight thanks to an emerging hobby.

A community of enthusiasts who practise blackwater photography are capturing images of these sea creatures, which are part of a daily movement of larval fish and invertebrates that rise to the surface each evening during one of the largest migrations of organisms on the planet.

Most of the larvae are no bigger than a fingernail, others are even smaller, and they can easily be mistaken for bits of seaweed or drifting detritus.

But up close, when captured with a camera using a special macro lens, the baby fish can appear to loom as large as wild animals on a safari - a safari on another planet.

The fish larvae are often festooned with flamboyant, streaming appendages to help them navigate the currents or imitate other species, such as poisonous jellyfish.

Some have enormous eyes and broadcast a rainbow iridescence that would not look out of place beneath a glass counter at Tiffany's.

As the blackwater hobby has taken off, gaining adherents around the globe, more and more photographers have captured stunning images and videos that reveal a secret world of bizarre, tiny animals that scientists have struggled for decades to better understand.

Many of the images have gone viral on social media and some recently won major underwater photography awards.



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