I’ve always been interested in the big and the small; the vast scale of the planets and galaxies, and the tiny micro-worlds that live under our feet. A few years ago I stumbled upon some fascinating photos of microorganisms online and wrote a blog post about them. Since then, my focused has been geared more towards the heavens rather than the miniature worlds below, but those pictures have remained in the back of my mind.
My fascination with the microscopic universe was reignited over the weekend when, on a whim, I decided to grab a tiny sample of pond water and put it under the microscope. Holy ostracods, there’s a lot of life down there! In that tiny dish of what looked to be, plain, clean, freshwater, life was teeming! There were little bean-looking things, there were animals with many, many legs, there were transparent worms – all of which could easily be mistaken for aliens!
I wanted to document my newly-found friends so I attached a webcam to the eyepiece and began making short videos of these creatures. In order to understand what I was looking at, I did some research online and found some guides to help decipher and organize the plethora of organisms I was seeing. Turns out, the little bean-looking things are ostracods, the worms are nematodes and mosquito larvae, and the things with many, many legs are copepods. I also stumbled upon some water fleas, and even a damselfly nymph!
All of these new discoveries from just a couple tablespoons of water. Amazing.
This world getting a little boring? There are universes within universes to explore if you just change your perspective… or in this case, scale.