ALIEN #20 – A beautiful Veliger, drifting through the night-time abyss. Veliger is the term for an intermediate life stage (post-egg, pre-snail) of many marine gastropods, during which they drift with the ocean currents, collecting microscopic bits of organic debris such as “marine snow”, and preying upon microscopic organisms like copepods and other zooplankton. Like many creatures in my Aliens Collection, the rainbow colors on it’s arms are often mistaken for bioluminescence, but those hues actually come from light from my strobes refracting through the translucent arms covered in cilia. They appear to hold motionless in the water, but are actually using thousands of cilia to hover at a desired depth – as soon as they retract their arms into the shell, they immediately sink quite rapidly. In between the egg stage and the juvenile stage, most aquatic snails go through the “Veliger” stage of metamorphosis, wherein the species, and even the genus can be extremely difficult to positively identify.