Photography by David Hall | Captions by Della Watson
The sea keeps its secrets well. While humans have explored, documented, and colonized nearly every stitch of land on the planet, the vast expanse of the ocean remains mysterious. Rarely photographed underwater creatures can appear alien—their cloudlike, luminous bodies more heavenly than earthly.
The cold, dark waters of the Pacific Northwest teem with these otherworldly animals. Renowned photographer David Hall's book Beneath Cold Seas: The Underwater Wilderness of the Pacific Northwest (University of Washington Press, 2011) documents this delicate ecosystem, which is home to exotic specimens like the red-gilled nudibranch (above), a type of shell-less snail.
The inhabitants of this barely charted world may look like the stuff of science fiction, yet our lives are intertwined. Whether or not we're mindful of it, we share this planet with the nudibranch, the sea anemone, and the octopus. The strange and beautiful creatures in this photo gallery inhabit a swath of the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of British Columbia, where they face threats like overfishing, pollution, and oil tanker traffic. Our actions could forever alter the lives of these marine animals—it's time to meet our neighbors.