Beautiful Microscopic Algae Art

Photograph of fossil diatoms collected in Pt. Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, California, and arranged on a microscope slide in 1968 by A.L. Brigger.

These artistic arrangements of diatoms (a type of algae) viewed under a microscope are surprisingly beautiful. Who knew algae could look this good?

Diatoms are a major group of the nearly 100,000 different types of algae found on Earth, and are often used for studying water quality and monitoring environmental conditions.

It’s not often that science and art come together like this, and it’s fascinating to think that many of these artistic works are small enough to fit on the head of a nail.

Enjoy the California Academy of Sciences’ rare collection of microscopic diatom arrangements created by hobbyists and phycologists using special scientific equipment.