This swirling shape looks like seashells but is actually padina algae. Its fronds are streaked with white lines of calcium carbonate, which helps give it structural integrity in the strong currents and waves of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Photographers working on the National Geographic book Archipelago
carefully transferred specimens to aquariums in their field studios, photographed them, and returned them to their habitat. The team worked on the project for more than three years and went through strict quarantine procedures prior to their arrival to avoid bringing nonnative seeds or insects to the islands.
The 1,200-mile-long (1,930-kilometer-long) Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument is almost the size of California and becomes the largest marine preserve on Earth, surpassing Australias Great Barrier Reef. It is home to 70 percent of the United Statess coral reefs.
More Photos in the News Today's Top 15 Most Popular Stories Free Email Newsletter: "Focus on Photography" Web Feature: Hawaii's Outer Kingdom
Photograph by David Liittschwager and Susan Middleton