Everyone loves a good time lapse video, whether it is of everyday scenery, passing clouds, or just some plants growing. In aquariums, the use of time lapse photography is uniquely useful in helping to show the behavior and growth of slow moving, slow growing corals, helping us to better understand the observations we see in real time.
Over the years, corals and aquariums have made great subjects for time lapse projects, showing us everything from the daily expansion and extension of coral polyps, to the growth of corals over a few years, or a crowd favorite is the documentation of corals eating stuff. With today’s cameras and smartphones increasingly coming pre-loaded with time lapse capturing features, we want to inspire you the reader to create even more time lapse of aquarium subjects.
Here is a selection of various time lapse videos and stories we’ve done the years, do tell us your favorite one in the comments or better yet, shoot some time lapses yourself and share it with the word.
Coral growth time lapse video of a Caribbean reef tank for two years – This is one of our favorite time lapse stories, with the videos having been created by Dave Lackland, carefully documenting the growth of Acropora cervicornis. At regular intervals Dave would send us the clips of his growing Caribbean staghorn (which he was specifically permitted to grow) and while this tank is no longer up and running, the time lapse videos of it keep the memory of this tank alive.
Predatory Ricordea yuma comes to life in time lapse feeding video – Contrary to popular beliefs, corals are ravenous feeders and are much less passive than they are given credit for. Nowhere is that more evident than when you watch corals eating and feeding through time lapse videos – the response time of corals to food is almost immediate and what happens next could not be more interesting and alien if it had been computer generated. See also this post of corals capturing Polyp Booster.
Underwater time lapse video shows the growth of a reef over 18 months – This time lapse is a very interesting one as it is one of the few we know of that was taken on a real living reef. As you can imagine, trying to take time lapse images on a reef presents very hard challenges due to the water movement, the changes in the water clarity, and someone has to clean the glass on the lens of the camera pretty regularly. The resulting time lapse of this growing reef was well worth the effort and you can clearly see that corals grow way more than one inch every hundred years.
Disc and plate coral olympics captured on time lapse – Going back to corals not being as helpless as they seem, in this department the free living Fungiid corals are the champions. Since they live out on reef flats and sometimes in sand or rubble, disc and tongue corals have developed mechanisms to inflate their tissues like a balloon to help them move around, to flip themselves over, and even to excavate themselves from the sand. The video above is just one of many that shows what appears to be a basic degree of consciousness on the part of the corals.
Cnidarian Lifeforms, another masterpiece from the creator of Montipora Movie – Anyone who has seen Cnidarian Lifeforms and Montipora Movie will agree that calling them masterpieces of aquarium cinematic art is a fitting description. Both of these films created by Ben Wiggins up the time lapse game by incorporating coral fluorescence, time lapse panning, exquisite coral specimens and an incredible soundtrack to support the ensemble.