Slideshow: Images from The World Beneath

See a world of undersea splendor through the lens of Richard Smith.

Richard Smith

The ocean harbors untold taxonomic riches, with hundreds if not thousands of species awaiting scientific discovery and description. Coral reefs, famously biodiverse but imperiled by climate change, may just be the epicenters of this slumbering species richness. In addition to attracting an amazing variety of animals, plants, and protists, the complex ecosystems are magnets for marine biologists and underwater photographers. Richard Smith fits both bills, and his camera has helped identify several new coral reef-dwelling species over the past two decades. These striking photographs come from his recently published book, The World Beneath: The Life and Times of Unknown Sea Creatures and Coral Reefs.

Nembrotha kubaryana is just one of the many thousands of species of nudibranch on coral reefs. Many remain undescribed.

Male Denise’s pygmy seahorses, like all seahorses, become pregnant and brood the young in a specially adapted pouch.
A pair of Bargibant’s pygmy seahorses, a species that is found living on the surface of only one genus of gorgonian seafan
Denise’s pygmy seahorses usually measure less than 2 centimeters in length and were described in 2003.
The newest species of pygmy seahorse, Hippocampus japapigu from Japan that colleagues and I named in 2018.
The thread pipefish is one of several new diminutive syngnathids discovered this millennium.
Wunderpus is a fantastical species of octopus named in 2006.
Alfian’s flasher wrasse was discovered by Anna DeLoach in 2015
A pristine coral reef in West Papua, Indonesia
A feeding manta ray, Maldives
An aggregation of sand tiger sharks on the east coast of Australia.
The addition of scale helps put many marine creatures into context.

All images courtesy of Richard Smith from his latest book, The World Beneath: The Life and Times of Unknown Sea Creatures and Coral Reefs.

Read the full story.