Photos from a marine invertebrate biologist who shares half of my genes

My dad, as you already know, is no slouch at photographing terrestrial vertebrates.

American Robin fledgling. Photo by M. LaBarbera.

American Robin fledgling. Photo by M. LaBarbera.

Chickaree. Photo by M. LaBarbera.

Chickaree. Photo by M. LaBarbera.

He likes terrestrial invertebrates too.

Male Sierra dome spider on its domed web. Photo by M. LaBarbera.

Male Sierra dome spider on its domed web. Photo by M. LaBarbera.

Four-spotted skimmer. Photo by M. LaBarbera.

Four-spotted skimmer. Photo by M. LaBarbera.

But his academic specialty is marine invertebrates, and those are also probably his most unusual photographic subjects. Lots of people have dragonfly pictures. Heck, have dragonfly pictures, although they’re definitely not as sharp and close and lovely as his. How many people have equally sharp and close and lovely photos of the warty comb jelly? (Which is quite pretty and rainbow-y, despite its name.)

Check out this link to see some of my dad’s photographs of tiny, spineless, delicate, strange, and beautiful undersea creatures. There’s a baby cuttlefish. It’s purple.

More pictures, along with a short story of how my dad encounters a lot of unexpected (and probably, by many, unnoticed) marine animals, are here.

And if you want an in-depth look at how a boy from a small town who grows up never seeing the ocean becomes a marine invertebrate biology professor at the University of Chicago, and how he teaches classes that make even the most squeamish undergrads come to love crawly, many-legged beasts, check out this article.

If you’re wondering why my dad is storming the internet right now, it’s because he’s retiring in less than a year, after 36 years of teaching. And, unlike many professors, he really does teach. Classes aren’t a gap between publications and awards to him; they’re the point, and his students know it.

It’s no accident that I grew up loving millipedes and jumping spiders. But even if you weren’t lucky enough to meet invertebrates at a young and impressionable age, all you have to do is spend some time with my dad now, and he’ll convince you to love them.

Dad introducing three-year-old me to a horseshoe crab.

Dad introducing three-year-old me to a horseshoe crab.

(My dad also has an ebook out on his other passion: ridiculous B-movie monsters and the physics of their awesome impossibleness.)

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3 thoughts on “Photos from a marine invertebrate biologist who shares half of my genes

  1. I love this! I’d read some of the articles you link to, but not all of them. Looking forward to dinner with the great man (and others) tonight.

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