Hakai Magazine


One Great Shot: The Art of Eating

Grazing snails create kelp lace.

Authored by

by Henley Spiers

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snails eating kelp

In temperate seas, kelp forests sway with the rise and fall of the tides and currents. As it grows, kelp offers shelter; as it decays, its demise offers food to an array of animals. Often, the kelp-crunching creatures are found on the underside of the leaflike blades, as with these minute sea snails, measuring just four millimeters long.

On a dive in Shetland, at the northernmost tip of Britain, I was engrossed by the patterns created by these snails and other creatures snacking on the kelp. This particular arrangement seemed especially tastefully composed, an easily overlooked example of the art of eating. By overexposing and photographing straight up toward the sky, each gap in the leaf is highlighted in white, adding to the effect. The only problem with my own creative strategy was that it necessitated a camera angle that could only be achieved by shooting blind. Holding my rig under the blade and hoping for the best, I would shoot, review, and then repeat, eventually settling on this frame as the most satisfying.