Striking photos of jellyfish shed light on the enigmatic invertebrates
Photographer Jan Schlegel’s new project, Of Aliens, Mermaids and Medusas, is a celebration of these prehistoric sea creatures, shot at the jellyfish lab in the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa
22 June 2022
Photographer Jan Schlegel
THESE striking prints capture the intrigue of one of the world’s most enigmatic groups of animals: jellyfish. They form part of photographer Jan Schlegel’s new project, Of Aliens, Mermaids and Medusas, a celebration of these prehistoric sea creatures.
Jellyfish are thought to have existed for 500 million to 700 million years, and despite lacking blood, bones and even a brain, they are remarkably complex. Some are even capable of feats such as resetting their life cycle, as is the case for the species Turritopsis dohrnii (also known as the immortal jellyfish).
The mysterious qualities of these invertebrates is what spurred Schlegel to choose them as a means to inspire creativity and stimulate the imagination. “I was watching the movements of a moon jellyfish in a tank for days and I realised it was absolutely fantastic,” he says. “I realised this is not a jellyfish, this is a monster looking at me.”
Schlegel shot these images of different jellyfish species at the jellyfish lab in the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa. He made the photographic prints using a process called platinum printing, whereby platinum salt emulsion is embedded into the paper fibres. The images are available as limited-edition handmade platinum prints contact from Schlegel.
The top row shows the jellyfish species Rhizostoma luteum (plus a photobombing fish), Phyllorhiza punctata and Aurelia coerulea. The bottom row shows Chrysaora melanaster, Catostylus azani and Cassiopea xamachana.
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