An ocean kaleidoscope

Words by Dan Warden


Wildlife photography, science communication, and showcasing the wonders of the natural world through the lens of Martin Stevens.

Martin Stevens


Martin Stevens is a scientist who studies animal coloration and behaviour. For his day job, he is a Professor of Sensory and Evolutionary Ecology at the University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus and runs a research group that studies animal coloration, behaviour, and vision, including our own impact on the world.


In his research he has long-used digital imaging techniques to study the science of animal coloration and vision. Outside of his main job, he is a keen underwater photographer, determined to capture the wonderful animals and scenery of UK marine environments, including many of the remarkable but lesser-known species. In particular, he aims to show off the creatures and underwater worlds close to home around Cornwall.

Alongside wildlife photography, he has written a number of popular science books, including in 2021 Life in Colour, (BBC Books, February 2021) which accompanied the David Attenborough BBC TV series, as well as most recently Secret Worlds (Oxford University Press, June 2021) all about remarkable animal senses.


A male spider crab guarding a female in the spring. These huge crabs migrate to shallow inshore waters in the spring and summer

Left, a large compass jellyfish in the early morning light, right, two spider crabs fight in the clear early-spring water

A small blue jellyfish in shallow water – another common visitor as the ocean warms in late spring

A spotted catshark rests in the seagrass in the Helford Estuary – seagrass is a critical habitat for many species, from cuttlefish to seahorses

Left, a spiny starfish on kelp, one of the largest starfish species in the UK and common in Cornwall, middle large blue jellyfish in the summer sunshine, attracted inshore to feed on plankton, right, two occasional visitors to Cornwall are by-the-wind sailors and Portuguese Man O’War, often brought in by strong winds during autumn and winter storms

Left, a colourful Facelina auriculata sea slug in a rock pool, right, a solar-powered sea slug on rainbow wrack seaweed


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