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At 300 feet beneath the surface, the ocean is dark. There are no landmarks around, you are suspended. Look hard enough and they appear: translucent creatures filled with colour. Some are as tiny as the nail on your finger, others are the size of a building. These are gelata – unstudied, mysterious and omnipresent. They are the ocean’s unseen backbone. Gelata are soft-bodied organisms carried by the currents. Their alien beauty mesmerises us, their lives fascinate us. They float through waves: fragile, iridescent, beautiful. Gelata are also a key component within oceanic ecosystems. They are also unique in how little we know about them.

Photographs by the Russian marine biologist and photographer, Alexander Semenov.

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