Phyto Moon

Honorable Mention
Sarah Amiri (Undergraduate)
Ecology, Evolution, & Marine Biology
Debora Iglesias Lab


A drop of seawater may contain hundreds of diatoms and dinoflagellates. The photo was taken on a compound microscope, and filtered a little more brightly to give it the appearance of the moon. The heart-shaped organisms in this 10-microliter drop of water are abundant during Santa Barbara summers.

Details I have monitored harmful algal blooms in the Santa Barbara Channel for about seven years, and recently delved into approaching my research on a more synoptic level. I now collect samples in the channel and along the coast, and match these samples with fluorescence readings from remote sensors.

The photo was taken on an Olympus compound microscope with a small digital Nikon camera. I put a glass filter on the lens to capture a light effect that I was experimenting with in past samples. The image was captured through the optical piece of the compound microscope at high light, and set to 40x to view this sample. The content includes diatoms and dinoflagellates common in phytoplankton assemblages off the Santa Barbara coastline.