The ocean is a scary and wonderful world, y’all. We know all about sharks, eels and barracudas, but have you ever heard of a Portuguese man-of-war? It’s a terrifying sea creature that looks just like a jellyfish but is in fact a whole collection of organisms packed full of stinging venom. The creature, which is about 6-feet tall with tendrils that can stretch up to 165-feet, is usually found in groups of 1,000 or more. Yikes. A tangle in one of these bad boys could easily zap you straight into your next life. But regardless of the scare factor, they are still a sight to behold. That’s why we’re super stoked about photographer Aaron Ansarov’s new series on the mysterious creatures.
The Florida-based, retired Navy combat photographer has captured a collection of striking images (and even video!) focused on these deadly beauties. Ansarov says he began finding them washed up on his local beach and was immediately drawn to their vibrant color. Somehow Ansarov manages to take these organisms and transform them into surreal, saturated and textured designs that look less like biology and more like abstract art.
A piece on the artist over at Pictureline gives us a behind-the-scenes look at his process: To start, he says he watches the weather forecast — bad conditions are good conditions for him. He grabs his family and heads to the beach where his wife helps him collect specimen in a cooler filled with ocean water.
Once they’ve gathered enough, they head back to Ansarov’s home studio where he already has a light table set up and ready to shoot. He snaps away at each one for a few minutes, then places them back in the water-filled cooler and returns them to the beach where he found them.
These mind-boggling images are part of a series titled “Zooids” on display now at the Mark K. Wheeler Gallery at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.
Which one of these crazy images stands out the most to you? Share a favorite photo series you’ve clicked across with us below!