One Great Shot: Magic in the Minutiae
Up close, a hydroid polyp looks more like a fairy’s wand or crystal ball than an animal.
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Most divers tend to look for big creatures, but I prefer to slow down and seek ocean life in the tiniest form.
As I explored the corals of Anilao, in the Philippines, this single hydroid polyp, smaller than a grain of rice, caught my eye through the viewfinder of my camera, which had an underwater magnification lens attached to it. It was the first time I’d seen this species, and its unusual structure appealed to me.
Hydroids are the lesser-known cousins of corals, jellyfish, and anemones. Like corals, hydroids typically form colonies, with many polyps physically connected and functioning as one organism. I haven’t been able to determine what species of hydroid this polyp belonged to, but the larger colonial animal resembled a tropical palm tree waving in the spring breeze.