Spineless: portraits of marine invertebrates the backbone of life.

Spineless: portraits of marine invertebrates the backbone of life. Susan Middleton.
Spineless: portraits of marine invertebrates the backbone of life.

New York: Abrams, 2014. Quarto, dustwrapper, colour photographs.

Acclaimed photographer Susan Middleton explores the mysterious and surprising world of marine invertebrates, creatures without backbones. Invertebrates represent more than 98 percent of the known animal species in the ocean and they are the foundation of all life on Earth. They are also astonishingly diverse in their shapes, patterns, textures and colours. Alternately colourful, quirky, spindly, spiky, sticky, stretchy, squishy, squirmy, prickly, bumpy, bubbly and fluttery, the invertebrates appear almost surreal in their abstract forms. Middleton's book is the result of seven years of painstaking fieldwork across the Pacific Ocean, using photographic techniques that she developed to portray these often-fragile creatures. She also contributes short essays on the place of marine invertebrates in the tree of life; their many forms; and their lives in the ocean.

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