Photographer Shoots Eye-Popping Macro Photos of the Portugese Man O’ War


Fine art photographer Aaron Ansarov‘s project Zooids contains beautiful, colorful, and abstract images that might look to you like something biological seen through a microscope. They’re actually macro portraits of the Portuguese Man O’ War, a jellyfish-like creature that is responsible for 10,000 documented painful stings worldwide.

Ansarov collects the creatures after they wash up onto a beach near his home in Delray Beach, Florida.


He then takes them to his studio, places them on a light table, and photographs them with a macro lens at a 1:1 ratio. The light from below helps to illuminate the creatures and bring out their dazzling colors.


No, Portuguese Man O’ War aren’t naturally perfectly symmetrical. After capturing his photographs, Ansarov digitally mirrors them to create his finished works.

After the photo shoots, Ansarov loads the animals back into a cooler and returns them to the sea.















You can find more (and larger) photographs from Zooids: Faces of Tiny Warriors on Ansarov’s website. He’s also selling prints of the photographs for those of you who would like to see these images grace your walls.

Zooids by Aaron Ansarov (via Wired)

Image credits: Photographs by Aaron Ansarov and used with permission

  • foggodyssey

    Cool what he’s doing, though I don’t think I’d spend $900 for a print though! :)

  • Alan Dove

    He returns them to the sea? Gee, thanks.

  • Rui

    10th picture gives me the creeps. The rest are interesting to look at.

  • wickerprints

    He wouldn’t want to be accused by animal rights activists of harming these creatures or by environmentalists who might claim he’s harming the ecosystem. According to him, he puts them back on the shore where he found them. If they wash back into the ocean, they live. If they don’t, they die, just as they would if he hadn’t picked them up in the first place.

    Among photographers of insects, there are a number who collect specimens and freeze them in order to make them more amenable to being photographed. Other photographers in the genre (as well as non-photographers) like to protest such a tactic as being harmful.

    Seems like you can’t win either way. There’s always someone to criticize what you do. Might as well just never pick up a camera in the first place.

  • ladyjanefannysaurus

    the sexual undertones are hard to ignore.

  • Trey Mortensen

    All I can think of when I see this are alien faces from movies like Independence Day

  • ksporry

    This is pretty cool and original. And (unlike others I guess) I’m glad to hear no animals were harmed in the process. What I’m a little confused about is that some people can see sexual undertones in these. I have to twist my mind in quite a sick way to see that…

  • PETApixel

    So many people worried about harming animals.

    I wonder if they don’t scratch their eyes (therefore killing thousands of micro-size organisms with each pass), or ride the bus (a single bus kills thousands of flying insects every day on a typical route).

    Oh, you mean we should only protect the Disney-style “cute” animals, right?

    Aside from endangered species, any animal should just get out of our way. We are perfectly capable of destroying our planet with bombs, does anybody see animals protesting? No. So screw them!

  • Roy

    Jellyfish are Disney-style “cute” animals?

  • PETApixel

    Haven’t you seen Finding Nemo? :p

    Curiously, insects still “don’t count” as animals as far as the “animal rights” movement is concerned. You don’t see anybody protesting outside Raid bugspray factories… I guess for these hypocrites 1 cow is “worth” a lot more than a spider! The last time somebody thought a certain “type” of being in a species was “worth less” than others, World War II began.

    Wait, what about the movies “Antz” and “A Bug’s Life”? Oh crap… it’s only a matter of time before humans will have to bow to the superior “Animal” race… who haven’t done anything at all to make everybody else’s life better: humans or animals.

    Bros before hos, and humans before animals. Everything else is humanshit.

  • Roy

    You’re quite right; the distinction between which animals are entitled to protection from welfare organizations is (understandably) arbitrary. People tend to feel more protective of creatures they can relate to. There’s a reason that most friendly alien races in sci-fi movies are either humanoid or fluffy.

    It takes a certain kind of commitment to rally for the protection of a species that frightens, hurts or even kills its potential benefactors.

  • Kevin Wilkinson

    Well, it was until you pointed it out.

  • Ridgecity

    Or simply don’t photograph living things, since it clearly shows they don’t have enough experience to do it without hurting the animal.