Life in a Droplet of Water

Smithsonian magazine shares a look at copepods at various life stages. They go through six larval and six juvenile stages between egg and adulthood, growing a new pair of legs at each stage. The photos were taken by Angel Fitor, a marine scientist and wildlife photographer.

In every drop of water is a hidden world. Scuba divers can’t see it through their masks; neither can snorkelers swimming among the coral reefs. To really enter this world, you need to look through a magnifying lens. There you’ll see a vast array of vanishingly small plankton, including crustaceans known as copepods. They come in some 13,000 known species, from glimmering-blue sea sapphires to noodle-shaped cod worms. Some roam freely, while others cling to plants or animals. One copepod species can swim into the womb of a gestating shark and attach itself to her calf.

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