Susan Middleton’s new book Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates, The Backbone of Life is full of beautiful photo portraits of unlikely subjects.
For Spineless, Middleton made jellies, crabs, octopuses, sea urchins and anemones her subjects. So little is known about almost all marine invertebrates, even though they make up 98 percent of wildlife in the ocean. “It is an under-studied, less conspicuous realm of life,” she says, “and a true frontier.”
The San Francisco-based photographer is drawn to the creatures’ forms, patterns, textures and colors. “As an artist I am enthralled with their foreignness; how they look different from us, and how they defy what it seems like animals should look like,” she says. In the book, Middleton writes, “Colorful, quirky, quivery, spindly, spiky, sticky, stretchy, squishy, slithery, squirmy, prickly, bumpy, bubbly, and fluttery, the invertebrates appear almost surreal, even alien.”