If you know anything about nature, you know that its beauty exists in all shapes and sizes. That's the premise behind Nikon's Small World in Motion competition.
2019 marks the ninth year artists and scientists have submitted video or time-lapses recorded with the help of a microscope to highlight the world we don't see on the surface.
The video above shows highlights of all of the winners and the videos that received honorable mentions.
Nikon Small World in Motion is the video component of the long-standing Nikon Small World still-photography competition.
The competitions recognize proficiency and excellence in photography and video taken under the microscope.
The winner of this year's competition was biologist, assistant professor and lecturer Dr. Philippe Laissue of University of Essex.
He captured the awe-inspiring video above of a polyp emerging from a reef-building staghorn coral.
"Coral reefs are in alarming decline due to climate change, pollution and other human-made disturbances," said Laissue. "I hope this video shows people the beauty of these organisms while raising awareness of their decline. We are working to better understand corals and their complex relationships with algae and other organisms. Hopefully we can contribute to finding the best ways to protect and conserve the coral reefs for future generations."
Corals are extremely light sensitive, and capturing this video required Laissue to use a low-light technique. He also developed a custom microscope that could take movies of the corals without bothering the light-shy samples.
"These amazing movies show us how much imaging technology has advanced over the years,” said Eric Flem, communications manager, Nikon Instruments, "It's remarkable that we can bring stunning visuals like this one that highlight scientifically and socially relevant topics such as the decline of the reefs to the public.”
Second place was awarded to Dr. Richard Kirby for his movie of Vampyrophrya, a type of parasite, emerging from a deceased host organism.
Kirby, also known as The Plankton Pundit, used Dark-field microscopy to capture this stunning moment right after transporting his live samples from several bodies of water to the laboratory for observation.
Tommy and Jesse Gunn of the United States won third place for their video of a Stylonychia creating a water vortex using its cilia.
The video, captured with 10x magnification Dark-field microscopy, shows how the microscopic creature is creating this vortex to capture its next meal.
The fourth-place video came from Dr. Hunter N. Hines of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce, Florida.
He recorded two freshwater tardigrades feeding on another tardigrade. He used 10x magnification with Differential Interference Contrast.
Dr. Kate McDole and Dr. Philipp Keller won fifth place with a video displaying a developing mouse embryo and the progression of its neural tube folding and closure.
Their footage was captured at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Virginia using light sheet fluorescence at 16x magnification.
There are many more submitted videos available to watch at Nikon's Small World website. You could easily spend a couple of hours pondering the beauty of these organisms.
If you think you can capture microscopic photos and videos like these, entry forms for Nikon's 2020 Small World and Small World in Motion Competitions are already available.
Nikon's Small World even has an exhibit tour that travels around the United States showing off work like the clips above for the masses to enjoy.