Irene Mendez Cruz @irenemendezcruz

Nature Photographer - Conservation Optimist - World Explorer 🦋🌸🐬📷 Born in Venezuela, raised in France, living in the UK 🇻🇪🇫🇷🇬🇧

Irene Mendez Cruz photos and videos

May 2019

Although rabbits are a non native species in #Skokholm and #skomer island, they have become an invaluable source of food for local birds of prey and the island’s number 1 apex predator: the great black-backed gull. There is one individual in particular, W:074 who is an expert in snatching rabbits!⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Competition is fierce though. Once this GBBG killed his prey, several gulls tried to take the prize away, whilst I watched in awe this brutal tug-of-war.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Special thanks to the warden of the island, Richard, for warning me on the radio about this particular kill so I could capture this behaviour!⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ #greatblackbackedgull #apexpredator #tugofwar #skokholmsyndrome ⁣⁣ #femalenaturephotographycom#naturephotography #welshwildlife #wildlifephotography #birdsofinstagram #visitwales #wilderfuture #seabirds #islands #wales #pembrokeshire #wildlife #photooftheday #earthcapture #springwatch #natgeoyourshot

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May 2019

Before I spam everyone with my puffin images from Skokholm, I just want to share with you this close encounter with wild boar piglets...because I mean, piglets. ❤️⁣ Thanks to @_yazzellis and @jackmifflinphotography for taking me to see them! 🐽 ⁣ #wideangle #ukwildlife #boars #forestofdean #wildlifephotography #bbcspringwatch #femalenaturephotographycom #bbcearth #naturephotography

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November 2018

For those who haven’t seen it yet, one of my Portuguese Man o’ war images made it into the November issue of @bbcwildlifemagazine as a double-page spread ⭐️ ⁣ ⁣ #siphonophore #manofwar #venemous #cornwall #wildlife #homestudio #wildlifephotography #november

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November 2018

Heliconius butterflies display a unique feeding behaviour and like any other butterfly they not only depends on the plants they feed on, but the plants also depend on the butterfly’s pollination services. Here, researcher Fletcher Young, uses artificial flowers, to train the butterflies to associate food with a specific shape. It is essential to understand what drives pollinators to act the way they do, mate the way they do, feed the way they do and play a specific ecological role in the food chain, to gather information that could potentially be used for their conservation.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ @smithsonianpanama #heliconius #butterfly #panama #conservationphotography #wildlifephotography #science #smithsonian #wildscreen #earthcapture #wildlifeart #natureinfocus #femalenaturephotographycom #nikonuk #macroworld #naturfotografie #macro_brilliance #marvelshots #macroworld #bbcearth #springwatch #earthfocus #papillon

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November 2018

Here, Dr Chi-Yun Kuo, experiments with a decoy to capture the behaviour of Heliconius specimens on footage, and their possible hybridization. By combining behavioural essays and cutting-edge genetic techniques, his team seeks to uncover the genetics of mate preference and its role in the evolution of species.⁣ ⁣ ⁣⁣ #science #heliconius #butterfly #panama #tropics #conservationphotography #wildlifephotography #smithsonian @smithsonianpanama #mnhp #natureinfocus #femalenaturephotographycom #papillon

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November 2018

It is extremely important to understand the evolution of butterfly ‘species as characteristics such as their wing colouration and pattern are central to their survival. For Heliconius species it acts as both a warning to predators and a cue for mate recognition. Different species have evolved to mimic one another in order to share the cost of educating predators. In Heliconius, there have been several instances where important genes have been exchanged through hybridisation, which have helped create diversity and shape new species.⁣ ⁣ #heliconius #butterfly #panama #smithsonian #gamboa #tropics #conservation #wildlifephotography #macrophotography #insect #mnhp #wildscreen #earthcapture #wildlifeart #natureinfocus #femalenaturephotographycom #nikonuk #macroworld #naturfotografie #macro_brilliance #marvelshots #macroworld #bbcearth #earthfocus #papillon #adoberisingstars

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November 2018

Heliconius species will reflect their distastefulness in their vivid coloured wings, which warns predators not to eat them. New discoveries in genetics have helped researchers learn more about the mechanisms behind it. In the past year, an international research team at STRI managed to knock-out a single gene, the WntA, in several species of butterflies, and manipulate the colours and placement of their wing spots and stripes. Thanks to ground-breaking science, they managed to create mutant specimens, like this one engineered by Carolina Concha, deriving from a Heliconius Erato Demophoon, helping them understand exuberant diversity of butterfly wing patterns in nature!⁣ ⁣ @smithsonianpanama #heliconius #butterfly #panama #tropics #conservationphotography #wildlifephotography #science #smithsonian #mnhp #wildscreen #earthcapture #wildlifeart #natureinfocus #femalenaturephotographycom #nikonuk #macroworld #naturfotografie #macro_brilliance #marvelshots #macroworld #bbcearth #springwatch #earthfocus #papillon #adoberiaing stars

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October 2018

Moths and butterflies rely on plants all through their lives, from the moment they lay their eggs on specific plants so that the hatching caterpillars can immediately start feeding on their host, to foraging and feeding on nectar. Heliconius for instance get their highly distasteful quality from the poisonous passion-vine that the larva feeds on and are particular in that they eat pollen.⁣ ⁣ ⁣ @smithsonianpanama #heliconius #butterfly #panama #tropics #pollen #poisonous #flowers #conservationphotography y #wildlifephotography #science #smithsonian #mnhp #wildscreen #earthcapture #wildlifeart #natureinfocus #femalenaturephotographycom #nikonuk #macroworld #naturfotografie #macro_brilliance #marvelshots #macroworld #bbcearth #earthfocus

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October 2018

The Heliconius Stock Centre and Rearing Facility at STRI, aims at supporting scientific research, especially ecological and evolutionary genetics, through the captive breeding of Heliconius butterflies. The insectaries provide a home to a variety of species and races along with their passiflora host plants that they depend on. It is essential to understand the mechanisms behind each butterfly species’ evolution to understand their needs and threats, so they have a better chance at survival.⁣ ⁣ #heliconius #butterfly #panama #tropics #conservationphotography #wildlifephotography #science #smithsonian @smithsonianpanama #mnhp #wildscreen #earthcapture #wildlifeart #natureinfocus #femalenaturephotographycom #nikonuk #macroworld #naturfotografie #macro_brilliance #marvelshots #macroworld #bbcearth #springwatch #earthfocus #papillon

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October 2018

The Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History has a historic collection of around 3 million Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths ) that are used for education and research purposes. However keeping up to date data records of butterfly populations is essential to help define their conservation status and to make an informed decision on the necessary protection measures. STRI’s Heliconius’ research lab, overseen by Owen McMillan, particularly focuses on the genetics of adaptation and speciation.⁣ ⁣ #heliconius #butterfly #panama #tropics #conservationphotography #wildlifephotography #science #smithsonian @smithsonian #mnhp #wildscreen #earthcapture #wildlifeart #natureinfocus #femalenaturephotographycom #nikonuk #macroworld #naturfotografie #macro_brilliance #marvelshots #macroworld #bbcearth #springwatch #earthfocus #papillon

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October 2018

⁣Heliconius are a distinctive group of tropical butterflies known for their mimicry abilities and the diversity of their bright wing colour patterns, which warn predators of their toxicity. Ranging from South to North America, Heliconius have been studied by entomologists for centuries. They have helped scientists to understand biodiversity and how new species are formed. Here, in the Panamanian Jungle, scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI ) in Gamboa, have an ideal working environment, the Soberania National Park, to collect and study native Heliconius species.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ #heliconius #butterfly #panama #gamboa #tropics #conservationphotography #wildlifephotography #science #smithsonian @smithsonian

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October 2018

Around 70% of all known animal species are insects and in the midst of what has been qualified as the ‘sixth extinction’ or 'biological annihilation', invertebrates are particularly endangered and mankind hasn't fully realised the consequences of it on its own future survival. All throughout the world, butterflies, which are known for their graceful flights, variety of colours and even for their remarkable migrations, are particularly in decline due to climate change and habitat loss.⁣ ⁣ #heliconius #butterfly #panama #gamboa #tropics #conservation #wildlifephotography #macrophotography #insect @smithsonian #mnhp #wildscreen #earthcapture #wildlifeart #natureinfocus #femalenaturephotographycom #nikonuk #macroworld #naturfotografie #macro_brilliance #marvelshots #macroworld #bbcearth #springwatch #earthfocus #papillon #adoberisingstars

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October 2018

| Kiss of the Oceans - Pacific | This octopus, found in the surrounding waters of Coiba National Park, a UNESCO World heritage Site, is a true master of disguise. It’s perfectly camouflaged to blend in against the volcanic ocean floor. ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ #coiba #panama #octopus #underwaterphotography #diving #panama #pacific #girlsthatscuba #nauticam #nikon #camouflage

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October 2018

| Kiss of the Oceans - Caribbean | Porcelain crabs have specialised front limbs with feather-like endings that they use to filter the water and feed on plankton.  This one is filter feeding in the comfort and safety of fire coral.⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ 'Kiss of the Oceans' is a book which celebrates the beautiful, diverse and fragile marine life of the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Panama - two ecosystems only a few miles apart that make Panama a paradise for divers. ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ #macro #coral #crab #bbcwildlifemagazine #discoverwildlife #underwaterphotography #diving #panama #caribbean #girlsthatscuba #nauticam #nikon #femalephotographer

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October 2018

| Kiss of the Oceans - Caribbean | Caribbean reef squids are social creatures that communicate through a variety of complex signals by changing skin colour and pattern. Not just for camouflaging or hunting, but also in courtship rituals.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ 'Kiss of the Oceans' is a book which celebrates the beautiful, diverse and fragile marine life of the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Panama - two ecosystems only a few miles apart that make Panama a paradise for divers. ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ Follow link in bio to view the full gallery!⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ #bbcwildlifemagazine #discoverwildlife #underwaterphotography #diving #panama #caribbean #girlsthatscuba #squid #nauticam #nikon #EarthCapture

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August 2018

| Kiss of the Oceans - Caribbean | Sponge brittle stars cling onto sponges, soft corals and gorgonians to seek refuge in space-limited environments but also to feed upon the organic matter found at their surface.⁣ ⁣ 'Kiss of the Oceans' is a book which celebrates the beautiful, diverse and fragile marine life of the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Panama - two ecosystems only a few miles apart that make Panama a paradise for divers. ⁣ ⁣ Follow link in bio to view the full gallery!⁣ ⁣ #bbcwildlifemagazine #nauticam #nikond7200 #underwaterphotography #scuba #diving #panama #caribbean #wildlifephotography #marinelife #girlsthatscuba #starfish #femalenaturephotographer

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August 2018

Check out the new online gallery of the @bbcwildlifemagazine featuring some of my underwater images from both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Panama! Only a few miles apart, the two ecosystems are radically different and are a paradise for divers. 🦈 🏝️🐠🐡 . . These images are part of a book I made called "Kiss of the Oceans" which was also my final University project : ) Huge thanks to @coibadive and @bocasdivecenter for their support in making the project possible! . . . . . #wildlife #marinewildlife #panama #centralamerica #caribbean #pacific #coastalwildlife #fish #sharks #octopus #cephalopods #squid #coral #coralreefs #seaweed #featherduster #seaworm #crabs #crustaceans #brittlestars #worldheritagesite #pink #wildlifephotography #diving #bbcwildlifemagazine #instawildlife #instanature #instabeautiful #femalenaturephotographycom

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June 2018

My Man O’ War project has won one of the Eizo Student Awards 2018! Congratulation to the other students and talented winners @laurenfearn_95 and @annabellake Thank you to @eizocolour , and the jury. Special thanks to @simoncroberts for choosing my work as his favourite entry. What an honour! ⭐️ I didn’t think this past week could get better between exhibiting my work in Bristol, meeting inspiring professionals and getting wonderful feedback on my underwater book! More info on: eizocolour.com/eizo-award/⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ・・・ #eizoawards #manowar #emerging #student #femalephotographer #winner #competition

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June 2018

My book “Kiss of the oceans” has been selected book of the month by @bobbooks 🎉🎉🎉 “The judges thought the book had some stunning photos that made a very powerful statement.” Check out the article they posted about it which will take you to the book! https://www.bobbooks.co.uk/blog-post/book-of-the-month-may-2018 #Repost #thankyou #photobook #competition #winner #femalephotographer #marine #pollution #underwaterphotography #ocean #animal #wildlife #wildlifephotography #photoart #plastic #planetorplastic #pacific #caribbean

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June 2018

#Repost from @orbis2018 Throwback to my time in Panama a couple of months ago, diving for my underwater biodiversity R.A.V.E and final University project. The time has come now to show the results and my ‘Kiss of the Oceans’ book at the Orbis Exhibition. Orbis is a marine and natural history film and photography exhibition from 2018 graduating year. The opening is tonight at Paintworks Event Space in Bristol and the exhibition will last until Saturday night. If you are in the Bristol area please come! : ) Follow this link for more info: exhibitionorbis.com #wildlifephotography #underwaterphotography #biodiversity #femalephotographer #diving #panama #graduation

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June 2018

Plastic is not only chocking the ocean but our planet in general. It has a huge impact on terrestrial creatures and habitats too, although these opportunistic vultures are making the most of it. “Only 1/5 of marine litter is made up of fishing gear and other materials lost at sea by accident, industrial losses, or illegal dumping, we know that roughly 80% of litter in the seas comes from land.” More info on: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/plastic-end-ocean/ #plastic #landfield #vulture #scavenger #wildlifephotography #femalephotographer

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June 2018

By 2050 it is said that there will be more plastic in the sea than fish...if we let it happen! #beatplasticpollution #plastic #ocean #marineconservation #coral #nikon #underwaterphotography @worldoceansday #planetorplastic

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June 2018

In 2017, the Plastic Bottle Village won an Environmental Excellence Award, in Panama. The four-storey fortress is open to the public during the day, has a few rooms for people to sleep in and a dining hall where the King will organise regular feast-nights. All the funds raised during any of these activities will contribute to helping the King in his mission to educate and protect. Each visitor is encouraged to make a donation and buy “carbon footprint stickers” which will give a monetary value to each single PET bottle picked up in the street. For instance a 100 bottles with stickers can now be exchange for a $5 coupon at the local supermarket of the island. “This will give kids of less fortunate families the opportunity to obtain food and school supplies and by the same token educate them about recycling”. More info on their Plastic For Food Program on: https://goo.gl/U6TBPu #BeatPlasticPollution #plasticfree #oceanconservation #recycle #worldenvironmentday #explore #travelphotography

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June 2018

The Plastic Bottle Castle construction started in July 2016 and is made up of 40,000 reclaimed bottles! The Plastic Bottle Village also aims at building houses for people to live in, amongst an eco-residential community in the heart of the island’s jungle. Each house would be made out of 14,000 plastic bottles which is the average human plastic bottle consumption, thus “neutralizing the negative effect of your passage on this planet”. More info on: www.plasticbottlevillage-theline.com #plastic #recycled @plastic_bottle_village #plasticfree #bocasdeltoro #oceanoptimism

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May 2018

"Say NO to single use plastic bottles. If you say YES, drink it, and build it" Plastic King Robert. After collecting more than a million plastic bottles in Bocas del Toro, Panama, Robert Bezeau decided to recycle them in an original way by building an entire castle and village out of plastic bottles! #plasticpollution #recycle #bocasdeltoro @plastic_bottle_village

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April 2018

Meet the King of the Plastic Bottle Castle « If kids can believe in Santa Claus, why not in a Plastic King. The most important is to inspire and educate them not to do what our generation did to our planet ». For more info check out the video from @bbcearth : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/business-43825834/why-i-live-in-a-plastic-bottle-castle #plasticpollution @plastic_bottle_village #savetheplanet #bocasdeltoro #panama #earthday #oceanoptimism

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March 2018

Happy #EarthHour 2018! As I am currently in Panama on a 6 week biodiversity RAVE (both terrestrial and marine ) I am absolutely devastated by the amount of plastic pollution that I have witnessed. However, the Plastic Bottle Village project, in Bocas del Toro, has lifted up my spirit and restored some confidence I have in humanity! This is an amazing initiative in which Robert Bezeau collected millions of plastic bottles left unrecycled, to reuse them and build an entire village out of plastic bottles... More pictures of the project will come up soon. In the meantime, this is my #promisefortheplanet : not to use any more disposable plastic bottles. For more information check out their website: www.plasticbottlevillage-theline.com or insta @plastic_bottle_village @wwf_uk @iop_falmouth @mayncreative #plastic #reuse #reduce #recycle #conservation #optimism #wwf

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March 2018

Physalia Physalis - In Autumn 2017, due to extreme weather and hurricanes, the South West of England, particularly Cornwall, was hit by the biggest mass stranding of Portuguese man o' war since 2012! This was the first time I heard about the species and I immediately became fascinated by it. I collected some of the stranded specimens from a local beach and brought them back home where I improvised a studio to try to capture its essence and experiment with different techniques and settings. This is the last image of the series. I hope you’ve enjoyed them! #manowar #siphonophore #stranding #cornwall #femalephotographer #naturephotography #homestudio #light #color #abstract

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March 2018

Physalia Physalis - Because they constantly float in the ocean and their only way of locomotion is through wind and wave action. They can spread and travel long distances but they can also can get pushed to the coast and get trapped in shallow waters. #siphonophore #hydrozoan #scienceart #femalephotographer #wildlifephotography #manowar #tentacles #venom #studio

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February 2018

Physalia Physalis - To avoid threats on the surface, Portuguese Man O’ War can deflate their gas-filled float through a siphon and briefly submerge! #manowar #defense #bluebottle #jellyfish #notajellyfish #wildlifephotography #femalephotographer

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February 2018

Physalia Physalis - Unlike many other marine creatures, they have no head, brain, gills or skeleton. However, they have a pneumatophore filled with up to 14% carbon monoxide, which allows them to stay afloat. #portuguesemanowar #femalephotographer #balloons #awesome_earth #naturephotography

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February 2018

Download the latest free edition of New Nature, the youth nature magazine, and check out the very informative article on Man O’ War written by Sarah Graunt, featuring my images. 📇 goo.gl/3jSALx - www.newnature.co.uk #abstract #crest #studio #marinecreature

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January 2018

Physalia Physalis - Because they spend their lives at the surface of the water, exposed to sunlight and high doses of UV radiation, some scientists believe that their coloration might act like sunscreen! #color #abstract #portuguesemanowar #sailing #siphonophore #naturephotography #nikond810

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January 2018

Physalia Physalis - These marine creatures are wonderfully adapted to life in the open ocean. The transparent blue and purple coloration camouflages the animal against the backdrop of ocean waves. #camouflage #bluebottle #colours #ocean #nikond810 #sailing #alien #nature

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January 2018

Physalia Physalis – Despite having venomous tentacles, there is one creature known to live unharmed amongst them and use them as its own protective “safe haven”: nomeus gronovii, otherwise called the Man-of-war fish! #portuguesemanowar #femalephotographer #wildlifephotography #studio #watercolor #cornwall

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January 2018

Thanks to @wireduk for posting my work and calling it “Dreamy but deadly...A beautiful health and safety issue” ! 😆 Physalia Physalis – Portuguese Man O' War have tentacles that can grow up to 50 metres in length. They are covered in venomous nematocysts used to paralyse and catch prey. To humans, they can give severely painful and potentially lethal stings! #sting #venom #nikon #portuguesemanowar #awesome_earth #naturephotography #colourful

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January 2018

Physalia Physalis – The Portugue­­­se Man O' War's name comes from the sail-like shape of its crest which was believed to look like an 18th Century Portuguese battle ship.

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January 2018

Physalia Physalis - Each specimen is comprised of individual organisms called zooids or polyps. They are physiologically attached to one another. They have to work together and function like an individual specimen in order to survive. #symbiosis #manowar #venomous #cornwall #stranding

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January 2018

Today I’m officially a Nominate Photographer for MAYN agency! I’m really excited and very grateful for all the support I’ve had from them, particularly with my last project on Portuguese Man O’ War that I shared on their social medias last week. I haven’t uploaded the series on my instagram yet, but here is the first of a series of 12! (Apologies for those who’ve already seen these...the rest of you, I hope you enjoy them! ) https://www.mayn-creative.com/ #/irene-mendez-cruz/ • Physalia Physalis - Despite their gelatinous look, the Atlantic Portuguese Man O' War is not a jellyfish, but a floating colony of hydrozoans. They are siphonophores from the Physaliidae family. #PortugueseManOWar #wildlifephotography photography #falmouth #conservation #marinelife #colours #venom #tentacles

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