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University of Cincinnati professor releases archive of marine life photos

Posted at 4:59 PM, Nov 29, 2017

CINCINNATI -- David Meyer has spent decades exploring the secrets of the sea and shooting underwater photos of marine species. 

Meyer, a University of Cincinnati professor emeritus, now wants to pass on his research to the next generation. He's converting his photographs to digital images for an online global marine biodiversity archive hosted by the university. 

"Photography was just an absolute essential to tell the story of these creatures," Meyer said.

Those creatures are feather stars, also known as crinoids, a relative of sea stars. Most people haven't heard of them.

"They're not very cuddly," Meyer said. "They don't have a face. They can't talk."

Meyer didn't go diving until he was a graduate student, but he spent the next 50 years studying feather stars and seeking them out in the tropical western Atlantic and Indo-West Pacific oceans. He was one of the first people observing feather stars by diving.

"I grew up along the water, so I guess I just always took to it naturally," Meyer said.

He's collected cabinets of photos over the decades.

"There's so much to see and it's a completely different world," Meyer said. "It can be overwhelming when you're talking about coral reefs, which are exceptionally rich and beautiful."

The photos aren't being archived simply for their beauty. With ancestors more than 500 million years old, feather stars could hold the key to future medical discoveries. Meyer said he hopes future generations will be able to build on the public archives. 

"So you are a very privileged person to be able to contribute to the knowledge of these things, and you just hope that you can leave a record -- a legacy -- that will be useful to other people," Meyer said.

Click here to view the full archive.