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Coral in the Great Barrier Reef showcased in this amazing video

por Pearline Hendrix (2021-01-20)

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Life under the sea: Incredible time-lapse video reveals corals and sponges in all their alien-like beauty as they forage for food
  • A PhD student from the University of Queensland, Australia has put together an incredible video of coral life
  • Marine biologist Daniel Stoupin created the film to show the secret life of the 'slow' marine animals
  • The corals and sponges were filmed under high magnification to show their amazing and bizarre features
  • But they move so slowly that their motion is only detectable by using time lapses
  • Although coral reefs such as this are crucial to Earth's biosphere, we still know very little about them
  • 'Once I started photographing corals more often, pursuing time lapses was inevitable'

By Jonathan O'Callaghan

Published: 12:37 EST, 1 April 2014 | Updated: 07:12 EST, 14 April 2014

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You might have seen incredible images of coral before, but you've never seen anything like this.

PhD student Daniel Stoupin from the University of Queensland, Australia has spent months photographing and filming supposedly 'slow' marine animals like coral and sponges, and the results will blow you away.

Using time-lapse photography, he shows how these seemingly stationary underwater marvels come to life under high magnification, highlighting remarkable details and behaviours that scientists around the world still don't fully understand.

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Stoupin took 150,000 shots with high-end cameras and lenses to create beautiful time-lapses of marine life


By stitching the images together, Stoupin was able to show how corals and sponges we think as stationary come to life over time in weird and wonderful ways

Although they play a crucial role in Earth's biosphere, we know very little about this rather sedate marine life

It took over nine months for Stoupin to film the corals and sponges in marine aquarium tanks.

While he didn't disclose the full price of the endeavour, Stoupin did say that it cost 'way more' than a few thousand dollars.

'I love marine life, especially invertebrates and I always look for something new to observe, film, or photograph,' Stoupin tells MailOnline.


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'When I got my first chance to focus my macro lens on a coral I realised that I want to know more about these magnificent creatures, their colours and their life.

'Once I started photographing corals more often, pursuing time lapses was inevitable.'

Despite filming the marine life in enclosed tanks and having friends in the industry, Stoupin says he does not endorse the activities of commercial coral collectors and hopes the video allows people to appreciate the value of such life in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and elsewhere.

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'My techniques are too complex to be performed under water,' says Stoupin, 'especially focus stacking where any vibrations or swell would ruin the super-macro shot.

'Focus stacking is the technique that gave the most spectacular results and allowed me to capture incredible amount of detail.

'That's why I had to look for help among people whose activities I do not endorse - aquarists and commercial coral collectors.

'Marine aquarium industry is quite large here in Australia and a lot of people create artificial reefs at home.

'So, all filming was done in tanks and due to my position I did not buy a single coral or live rock, I did not keep a tank at home or in anyway contribute to the industry.

I tried to film freshly collected animals before they are sold and shipped to other countries to be put in private tanks.'

Up close you can see some of the incredible details on various pieces of coral and sponges


Here a coral known as a fungia can be seen excavating itself from sand and silt, which piles on top of it over time


The Great Barrier Reef covers 1,429 miles and is so large it can be seen from outer space.

Marine creatures include 600 types of soft and hard corals, more than 100 species of jellyfish, 3000 varieties of molluscs, 500 species of worms, 1625 types of fish, 133 varieties of sharks and rays, and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins.

It extends south from the northern tip of Queensland in north-eastern Australia to just north of Bundaberg.

The reef is an at risk World Heritage listed site that UNESCO believes could become an 'in danger' later this year.

A lot of interesting aspects of coral and sponge biology can be seen in the gorgeous time-lapses.

Some of the events happen over long periods of time, such as at night when some corals open up and extend their tentacles.

'A fun part to watch is seeing how brittle stars clean sponges,' says Stoupin. 

'Brittle stars are relatives of sea stars and sea urchins.

'They have long flexible arms with which they can collect random stuff sediments that fall on sponge surface.

'I did not know about such symbiosis until I saw it it in my time lapses and then read it in a research paper after looking up for information.'

Stoupin's is all the more impressive as he had to juggle taking the shots with being a PhD student.

The longest part he says was processing the images.

'Often I had to wait days to process a sequence to realize that I've done mistakes and had to do it over.

'One frame could easily take more than 10 minutes of processing time.'

The groundbreaking video reveals some unknown aspects of the deep blue sea that we are yet to understand


Stoupin hopes the video will serve as a reminder as to how precious and wonderful reefs like the Great Barrier Reef are


Each frame of the video was a 'stack' consisting of three to 12 shots, with the in-focus areas merged to highlight aspects of the coral and sponges

With the video Stoupin says he hopes to show a unique perspective of the Great Barrier Reef and attract attention to the problems that it is facing.

'Australian government approved industrialisation of the area that will have devastating consequences.

'Ignoring these problems and creating artificial reefs at homes instead of protecting the reef is, unfortunately, is very common.

'Watching the marine aquarium industry from inside during the filming process made me extremely concerned about priorities of those who often claim themselves to be reef lovers.'

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