A lot of people rightfully acknowledge that plankton plays a super-important role in our ocean ecosystem. They just don't realize how cool they can look while doing it.
Plankton aren't just a key food source for larger animals like whales. They also, through photosynthesis, generate incredible amounts of oxygen that the Earth needs to survive. Without them, the ocean would be donezo.
But when most people picture plankton, they don't picture cool-looking superplankton. They just picture that mean thing from "SpongeBob SquarePants."
Everyone except for photographer Ryo Minemizu, that is. The wildlife photographer has managed to capture striking shots of all different types of plankton that show just how incredible they really are.
In 2017, National Geographic took notice, awarding him the Nikkei National Geographic Prize for his collection called "The Secret World of Plankton." He also has a collection of plankton that he has called "Jewels of the Sea."
Mastering his craft hasn't been easy, as it's not easy to capture the very tiny and often quickly moving creatures. But Minemizu is nothing if not dedicated. In his artist's statement on his website, he noted that he often spends about eight hours per day underwater.
This means sometimes even enduring the dark and chilly nighttime waters, taking in the world around him and honing his craft by constantly clicking the shutter on his camera.
The results have been incredible. Minemizu frequently says that he wants to show how precious and dear life is, and that comes through in his work, which makes single, tiny plankton appear as formidable beasts.
His underwater subjects aren't only plankton. Like many underwater photographers, Minemizu also gets cool shots of fish that the general public doesn't get to see a lot.
But when it comes to showcasing one of the most important organisms on our planet — and making them look good — no one can do it like Minemizu.