I'd just been learning the controls of our new Canon SD 1100 IS when I discovered CHDK, the Canon Hackers Development Kit.
This firmware hack liberates the Canon Powershots, enabling more features. One of those features is the ability to use a flash with digital macro. I am just beginning to explore.
First, two photos of the swimming sea anemone Boloceroides sp. outside the World Resort on Saipan.
The first is to show just how small this object is.
The second is taken hand held using digital macro mode and a flash, though in truth I cannot remember the exact camera settings.
A third photo was made with straight Macro Mode, handheld, at a low tide, without a camera housing. Star sand is something of a curiosity and many of my students have told me they have heard of Star Sand on Tinian.
Fewer realize that it is also found---and indeed even a predominant member of the reef flat community---on Saipan as well. At certain beaches, over 90% of the sand of the beach is made of these shells. Shells of what? An amoeba! Who'd've thought he's see an amoeba?!
This amoeba is a foraminiferan, a shell forming amoeba, and furthermore is a "Large Coral Reef Foraminiferan". Large Coral Reef forams (as they are called in short) have symbiotic plant cells living inside them. Many of them have Zooxanthellae, like corals do, photosynthesizing Dinoflagellates that give extra Carbon (food, sugar) to the host. Others, like this Baculogypsina sphaerulata, have symbiotic naked diatoms that fill the same role.
Want to see what's inside one of these stars? Here's a shot taken for a student's science fair project, of a decalicified Baculogypsina sphaerulata. This shot was taken with the same Canon Powershot "point and shoot," held by hand up to the eyepiece of a microscope. The in-scope magification was 200 power.