Lucy Wang

Colorful Dyes Expose the Amazing Hidden Anatomy of Fish

by , 12/27/13
filed under: Animals, Art, gallery

adam summers, seattle aquarium, cleared exhibition, fish anatomy, Alcian Blue, Alizarin Red S, trypsin, LED light table, glycerin, anatomical models, fish skeletons, science photography, photography

To prepare each specimen, Summers first uses two different colored dyes as staining agents: Alcian Blue to highlight cartilaginous elements and Alizarin Red S to turn mineralized tissue a bright red. Then, he lightly bleaches the fish to remove dark pigments before dissolving the flesh with Trypsin, a digestive enzyme that can remove protein while leaving collagen intact. Finally, Summers submerges each specimen in glycerin on a color corrected LED light table to expose the skeleton through the skin and connective tissue. A Canon 5D Mark III camera with a 100mm Macro lens is used to photograph each fish.

By exposing the skeleton and soft tissues, each image provides fish biologists with important anatomical models that can help explain the developmental trajectory of various fish. The preparation process can range anywhere from a few days to several months, depending on the thickness of the fish. The exhibition, which features fourteen different specimens, will be on display at the Seattle Aquarium until Spring 2014.

+ Adam Summers

Via My Modern Met

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