Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Census of Marine Life

Well, this post has been a while in the making.  It was a very hectic Spring and Summer and hopefully I will have a little more spare time now to write the occasional posting.

But here is the Census of Marine Life in the smallest of nutshells, or the tiniest tip of a vast ice berg.
Described on the website thusly:

2,700 scientists
80+ nations
540 expeditions
US$ 650 million
2,600+ scientific publications
6,000+ potential new species
30 million distribution records and counting 

Essentially it is a massive catalogue of what the oceans contain.  The scope of this project is enormous bringing together scientists from different institutions in different countries to research as much ocean as possible over many expeditions.  The mind boggles.
And here are some of the poster children of such an effort.
This is a link to the COML gallery for more astounding images of recently discovered creatures of the sea.

Christmas tree worm (Spirobranchus giganteus) found at Lizard Island (Great Barrier Reef)
The blue tendrils are actually its breathing apparatus.

Credit: John Huisman-Murdoch Univ.
View inside the mantle of a Cirrate octopod (Stauroteuthis syrtensis). One of the few known bioluminescent octopuses.   Photophores (bioluminescent organs) are thought to fool prey by directing them towards the mouth.  Found in the Gulf of Maine at 800m.

Credit: David Shale

A golden lace nudibranch (Halgerda terramtuentiss).  Collected in the waters of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Credit: Corey Pittman, NOAA, PIFSC, NHIMN

Octopus specimen collected at the Great Barrier Reef's Lizard Island at a depth of 10-12 m

Credit: Dr. Julian Finn, Museum Victoria

Juvenile representatives of Antarctic and deep-sea octopuses.
Clockwise from top left: 
Pareledone charcoti, (credit: L. Allcock)
Thaumeledone gunteri, (credit: I. Everson)
Adelieledone polymorpha, (credit: L. Allcock)
Megaledone setebos. (credit: M. Rauschert)

And frankly the best for last.  Not only is the "Yeti Crab" spectacular to look at, it is so unusual it warranted a whole new family designation (Kiwidae) and  a whole new genus (Kiwa, for the mythological Polynesian goddess of shellfish).  Its species name, hirsuta, is from its hairy appearance.

Credit: Ifremer, A.Fifis 2006

And I realize that the Census for Marine Life has done a good deal more that provide us with a few new interesting creatures to look at...but isn't that the start of education?  That we can all be engaged with some images long enough that we might learn something.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I think I have a new favourite website.  The Smithsonian Ocean Portal.  I have had oceans on the brain for months, and now I know what I will be doing with all my free time for months to come.

This photograph miraculously depicts nine (NINE!!) different animals all collected by Smithsonian researchers involved in the Deep Reef Observation Project. Collected  60m (~200 ft) near Curaçao in the southern Caribbean, these gastropods and echinoderms are just a tiny (literally) example of the diversity of life in the oceans.

The article accompanying this photo, written by Cristina Castillo, also mentions The Census of Marine Life, "a 10-year international effort undertaken in to assess the diversity (how many different kinds), distribution (where they live), and abundance (how many) of marine life—a task never before attempted on this scale."
For more information and some mind boggling statistics, have a look at this.
For some mind boggling images please look here.

There is a post in the works on the Census for Marine Life.....
Hopefully coming this week.

Monday, May 28, 2012


In the series Obviously, Audrey Corregan, has photographed several taxidermied birds from behind.  These images won the photography prize at Hyeres de International de Mode et Photographie.  The angle from which they were photographed adds another dimension to the birds, as it is not at first obvious whether or not they are alive.  While taxidermy renders a previously dynamic creature static, this angle fills them with movement and mystery once again.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Well, here in Vancouver it feels like spring. And summer is on its way.

And this work seems so appropriate right now.
Regine Ramseier is an artist in Switzerland.  Her, work varies across mediums, from watercolour to soft sculpture to mixed media installations involving materials from the natural world.  In Windstille, which translates to calm, she has painstakingly collected hundreds of dandelions.  These she suspends from the ceiling of a gallery and the results are beautiful.

The soft dandelion seed heads create a beautiful avenue leading up to a window and the green space beyond.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Raw Colour

I was sent this link by the lovely Thea, whose blog deserves a posting of its own. But that will have to wait.

But what a beautiful project this is.

Raw Color describes this project, or series of projects, as A visual research about vegetables and their powerful color. Vegetables are dismantled and purified to their visual essence 'RAW COLOR'.

For the exhibition Dutch Domestics at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt the installation Liquid Palette was created.  The installation is composed a cabinet holding 130 containers of pigment derived from vegetables.  The pigments are both pure mixed in different ratios.

In Raw Color 1 the vegetable pigments are isolated and used to colour paper cards.  Each pigment seems to have been mixed with other substances, playing with transparency and subtle changes of texture and shade.
In Raw Color 2 some of the strongest pigments are added to ink cartridges, and prints made.  The inkjets prints are done with (C) Red Cabbage, (M) Beetroot en (Y) Pumpkin.
The juice causes a stripe in each of the images.
Raw Color 3 is a series of photographs that play with the results from the color cards.  It illustrates the ratios of the color mixing from Raw Color 1, but also references the classic color wheel.
And finally in Raw Textiles a collaboration was made with the design shop Edwin Pelser, to create an installation of silk scarves dyed with the vegetable pigments. 18 unique shades that were created by pure and mixed vegetable dyes.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Brookesia Micra

Well, this little mite has been all over the internet recently, but I couldn't resist.
Why am I, and assume by extension is everyone else, so obsessed with tiny creatures?I suppose that they seem so impossible. Something so complex in a package so minute. All aesthetics and heart shrinking feelings aside, the tiny chameleon, more correctly the Pygmy Leaf Chameleon is found in Madagascar, along with a host of fascinating creatures, including lemurs (all the lemurs, they are found nowhere else) and was once home to the now extinct Elephant Bird. Madagascar also has an interesting history, and language. An amazing description of the island can be found in the introduction of Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams. One of my favourite books of all time. David Attenborough also seems pretty fond of the chameleon: The Brookesia micra is the smallest chameleon in the world, part of an entire family of miniature sized leaf chameleons, the Brookesia Minima group.
The Brookesia is not only near impossible to see due to its size, like all chameleons it is able to change colour to blend in with its surroundings. If threatened the chameleon will 'play dead' hoping to be mistaken for some sort of dry leaf.
Like most of the creatures on Madagascar, they are listed as a threatened species.

Monday, February 13, 2012


In 2001, Gregory Blackstock retired from "25 1/3" years of work as a pot washer at the Washington Athletic Club (WAC). This has given him more time to devote to his art and music interests. He has been publishing drawings since 1986, first and the WAC newsletter and recently in a book of his work Blackstock's Collections: The Drawings of an Artistic Savant.
Blackstock is an autistic savant, he speaks many languages, can recall events with an uncanny precision and is an incredible mimic. He is also very skilled with music and can be seen around Seattle playing his accordion. He first caught the attention of the Garde Rail Gallery in 2003 leading to several shows and the eventual publication of his book. Many, many more images on their site.
The subject matter for his drawings varies a great deal from state birds to state prisons, tools to WWII bombers, and mackerel to Boeing jet liners. I've mostly included the drawings of animals and birds with a few vegetables, focusing on the images from nature.
His drawings are often large, made up of smaller pieces of paper taped together. They are complete collections, laid out in precise rows. The drawings created with pencil, crayon, ink and marker. The range of scale is seen here:
Blackstock is wearing a t-shirt with his drawings as a design! (Where can I get one!)
A revealing description of his abilities and personality: "Gregory Blackstock says he speaks 12 languages and is happy to prove it, bellowing greetings in a rapid succession of diverse tongues. Not only does he have perfect pitch, he can play any instrument he picks up but prefers the accordion, because it's loud." Regina Hackett, Seattle Post-Intelligencer.


The Mechanics of it boggle the mind.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


While not exactly the same as the siphonophores, who am I to split hairs when it comes to simple and elegant design.
Pendant Lamps by Roxy Towry-Russell

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Surprisingly this isn't science fiction...but a marvel from the ocean right here on planet earth. Siphonophores are creatures, actually they are a colony of creatures, belonging to the same family as corals, hydrids and jellyfish. They are composed of several separate zooids (individuals)that are either medusae or polyps. Medusae are basically jellyfish and polyps are basically sea anemone. Each zooid in the colony has a specialized function of swimming or eating. Neither can perform the other, they are entirely dependent on the colony.
All siphonophres are predators, capturing their prey with lures, similar to the anemone. The majority swim in the wide ocean and to feed cast a wide net of minute tentacles. One species tethers itself to the bottom, and the most common species, the Portuguese Man O' War drifts about on the surface of the ocean.
There are approximately 175 species, some specimens being the longest animals in the world measuring over 40 metres and are long and thin. Some have orange or red pigmentation but most are of a clear gelatinous material. Many of them are bioluminescent, glowing green or blue when disturbed.
Beautiful images of Siphonophores and other sea creatures from the Census of Marine Zooplankton. More detailed information and diagrams here.