You’ll Never Look at the Beach and Waves the Same Way Again: Here’s a Drop of Seawater and a Grain of Sand Magnified

by Carolyn Sotka

magnified seawater

Above: what looks like a contemporary, hand-drawn textile is really the magnificent cluster of life gathered in one drop of seawater. Photo by David Liittschwage.

This drop of seawater contains a diverse array of planktonic organisms — small and microscopic organisms that float or drift in oceans, rivers and streams.

Plankton captured here range from photosynthetic cyanobacteria and diatoms to many different types of zooplankton, including both holoplankton (permanent plankton) and meroplankton (temporary residents, e.g., fish eggs, crab larvae, worm larvae). It reflects just a bit of the vast range of life that one finds within just one drop of water.


These minuscule grains of sands are magnified up to 300 times and reveal that each grain of sand can be beautiful and unique. Microscopic photography by Dr. Gary Greenberg.

When Dr. Gary Greenberg turned his microscope on beach sand, gem-like minerals, colorful coral fragments, and delicate microscopic shells emerged, revealing that sand comprises much more than little brown rocks. Dr. Greenberg also invented high-definition, three-dimensional light microscopes, for which he was issued eighteen US patents. His microscopic photography is featured in a number of books including Dr. Gary Greenberg’s book A Grain of Sand – Nature’s Secret Wonder that can be purchased directly HERE and on Amazon.

For other close-ups of sand, check out Greenberg’s Sand Grains Gallery. -CS

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