Why not just take a picture?
Without an actual specimen or object, problems can arise if the validity of a record based on a photograph is ever questioned.
A photographic record and even a sight record can be very useful. It can greatly enhance the value of a specimen or object and form an important part of the data collected. A photograph can capture details such as the bright colour of most seaslugs which is lost once the specimen is preserved. Photographs can also record a specimen or object in its natural habitat or cultural setting, and record movements too fast for the human eye. Macro photography, scanning electron microscope (SEM) images and x-rays also provide information often not visible to the naked eye without damaging the specimen.
Without an actual specimen or object, however, problems can arise if the validity of a record is ever questioned. A photograph often doesn't display important characteristics or any internal features that may be required to confirm the identification of the specimen or help in a revised identification based on new data. There are also many species which stay hidden and can only be found using intensive collecting techniques. These could never be photographed.
Brooke Carson-Ewart , Web Manager