Friday, May 31, 2013

Giant Siphonophore

A giant siphonophore (Praya dubia) is a colonial Cnidarian like the Porteguese man-o-war. It can get up to 130 feet long and can be found at up to 1000 feet deep. Each of the small animals are connected together and have different functions like feeding, swimming, and reproducing. The "head" or swimming bell is the nectosome and the long "tail" is the siphosome. These guys can bioluminesce a blue color to attract their prey. The giant siphonophore is part of the Aquarium of the Pacific's new exhibit on Ocean Exploration called Wonders of the Deep. Since the images of these animals of their full length are mostly low-resolution ROV video captures and since the original designs called for a 40 ft image, I decided to illustrate the animal instead of going through the frustration of Photoshopping, cloning, and blowing up itty bitty pixels. Illustration gave me the flexibility to play around with the size of the image to fit the context and also to blur or clarify the parts of the image that overlapped or went behind other Photoshopped photos. This first image is the final image as it went to pre-press, with the images from the different sections and two walls put together. The illustration was built at 1/8" size.

Here's a close-up of the front of the siphophore, with the nectosome and some of the siphosome showing.

And here is the image in the context of the Wonders of the Deep Gallery. The projections above it show animals that live in the abyssal plains, 13,000 ft down. The siphophore isn't one of those animals, it's more an element to tie together the different panels. Sorry for the poor quality of the photo. It's an appropriately dark exhibit.

If you find yourself in Long Beach, come check out the new Ocean Exploration exhibit at the Aquarium of the Pacific!