lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

U is for Underwater


This photo was taken by the fabulously talented Stefan Siebert, who has kindly given me permission to show it here. It is an extraordinarily beautiful creature, a tiny (about 5mm) underwater crustacean. It is a species of Sapphirina copepod – in the same family as woodlice and crabs.

They are usually invisible. Until that is, they catch the light, when they burst into visibility like a flash of prismatic wonder and as quickly disappear again.

Describing them is almost an exercise in futility – so with his permission I am linking you to a film of them on Vimeo, taken by another incredible photographer, Kaj Maney, who runs a diving school in Indonesia, so that you can watch in awe.

Like all crustaceans they have an exoskeleton, but theirs is transparent and has crystalline elements – when the light strikes them at the right angle, the exoskeleton acts like prism and it appears in a blaze of glory.

There are many types of tiny crustacean, with other tiny animals and fish, eggs etc. drifting in the currents, they help form the zooplankton that sustains many creatures, big and small; seahorses, jellyfish, even some types of whale.

These particular crustaceans, copepods, are tiny creatures which aren’t usually very attractive, each sporting one eye, long antennae and segmented bodies (rather like woodlice).

The sapphirina copepods are a stunningly beautiful exception.

The gemstone sapphire can be found in many colours and so can copepods, golds, greens and purples as well as blue.

Sometimes they come to the surface and shimmer in the light – Japanese fishermen called this phenomenon ‘Tamamizu’ which means jewelled water, or water bead.

Unless you are a diver, you will probably never see one!


My copepod poem:


Sapphirina Copepods


They make up


jewelled water,

these sea sapphires

teasing sight,


and invisible,

until they

catch the light,

part it in their

prisms that

splay colours,

crystal bright,

to blaze alive

like sapphires

in the under-

water night.



Poem © Liz Brownlee

Photo © Dr Stefan Siebert (Please note there is no creative commons license for this image, I have permission to show it.)

Film © Kaj Maney (Please note there is no creative commons license to show this film, I have permission to show it.)

Information from Wiki, Deep Sea News,

If you would like to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click here.

If you’d like to read about or buy my book, Animal Magic, full of animal poems and fascinating facts, click here.


  1. That picture is amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing creature! It sure is a jewel. I can imagine the beauty of Tamamizu. The poem is a fine tribute to the underwater animals.


    • I would love to see the jewelled water. There is another creature, a type of squid that also glows and produces a similar effect, also in waters off Japan.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is all absolutely gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tiffany Hall

    Beautiful picture and beautiful poem! My daughter loves learning about animals (especially underwater sea creatures); I can’t wait to share this with her. The Firefly squid off of Japan is one of the animals she told me about that she thinks is amazing. I’m so glad your comment brought me here, and I can’t wait to look through more of your posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aha, that was the name I was searching for last comment, firefly squid! Hello Tiffany, lovely to meet you. I am a children’s poet primarily here in the UK, say hello to your daughter from me.


      • Tiffany Hall

        It is a pleasure to meet you as well. We love poetry here too! I will definitely relay the message (which will make her feel super special). Looking forward to reading more of your work.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! They are like beautiful ghosts that you see and then they disappear. They are beautiful. Love the poem you created too

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ula

    They seem like glitches in the system, illusions, or a portal to other worlds. I had never heard of these or even seen photographs. The one you have provided is stunning. Thanks for the video as well. It’s nice to see them since chances are practically zero that I’d ever have a face-to-face encounter with one.
    I have been reading and appreciating all your informative posts this month and enjoying your poetry, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. They are lovely, Liz – and we both went underwater today!


    • I know, I’ve been meaning to visit, but have had other things overtake, trouble is I have to hope the internet is working in the other room on the laptop. Not always the case.


  8. Lise Mendel

    They are just stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aren’t they! It would be rather wonderful to have some in an aquarium… they are the sort of creature that wouldn’t know they weren’t free.


  9. The creatures are beautiful and so is …”in the underwater night.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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