Next week Science into Images will be recording high-speed images for the research on the shooting of the Pelagia noctiluca jellyfish nematocysts. Nematocysts are the stinging capsules that have jellyfish and other cnidarians (corals, gorgonians, anemones, etc.) which are the responsible of the painful and even dangerous bites of these beautiful and attractive marine animals.
The cameras we usually use to take video images in High Definition (Full HD) work at a speed that ranges between 25 and 60 images per second (fps.), with some exceptions, such as our Olympus OM-D E-M1X, which allows us to record in Full HD at 120 fps., that is, one single image at approximately every 8 thousandths of a second. However, even that speed is too low to capture the image of the firing of the nematocysts, which are estimated to be fired at a speed of approximately 3 thousandths of a second, more than double the maximum speed at which our camera can work.
The recordings will be carried out at the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC) with a pco.dimax HD® camera that allows us to capture images in Full HD at 2128 fps. Iberoptics Sistemas Ópticos s.l. provides the camera, and its director Manuel Herrera will prepare the recording system with which we will work for three intense days. This high speed allows to capture an image (a photograph) approximately every 5 ten-thousandths of a second, something fundamental for the investigation, since that will allow the researcher Ainara Ballesteros, responsible for the project, to later calculate both the actual firing speed and the energy released during the firing of each nematocyst.