The Blog Aquatic » art http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Tue, 12 Aug 2014 13:00:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 “Midway” Film Tells Story of Plastics in Our Ocean Through Plight of Albatross http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/28/midway-film-tells-story-of-plastics-in-our-ocean-through-plight-of-albatross/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/28/midway-film-tells-story-of-plastics-in-our-ocean-through-plight-of-albatross/#comments Thu, 28 Mar 2013 20:23:35 +0000 Sarah van Schagen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5307

MIDWAY : trailer : a film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.

Artist Chris Jordan is best known for his large-scale images that deconstruct huge numbers while making a statement about our mass consumption habits. For example, the tiny pieces of plastic in “Gyre” represent the pounds of plastic that enter the world’s ocean.

Jordan’s latest project, “Midway,” is a feature-length film that expands on the plastic pollution problem by focusing on the plastic fragments that fill up albatross stomachs as they try to feed in the open ocean. Scientists estimate that 4.5 metric tons of plastic arrive on Midway Atoll every year in the stomachs of the albatross.

The trailer includes some disturbing images of dead and dying birds, but as the narrator says, “Do we have the courage to face the realities of our time and allow ourselves to feel deeply enough that it transforms us and our future?” We can only hope the answer is “yes.”

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Can 500 Underwater Statues Help The Ocean? http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/23/can-500-underwater-statues-help-the-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/23/can-500-underwater-statues-help-the-ocean/#comments Thu, 23 Aug 2012 18:23:15 +0000 Carmen Yeung http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=2484

Underwater statues are fun to look at, but can they really function as an artificial reef? Credit: Jim Bahn flickr stream

Two of my favorite pastimes are visiting art museums and exploring new underwater habitats. But combining the two can be environmentally risky. That’s why there are a couple of things that concern me about Jason deCaires Taylor’s project in Cancun, Mexico, that has placed 500 statues as an underwater tourist attraction. Here are a couple questions I asked myself after hearing about the site.

1. How does it help ocean health?

The artist, Jason deCaires Taylor, mentions that his statues at Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA) are being covered with coral and algae, but this does not necessarily mean his statues are helping the ocean. When implementing artificial reefs, the placement of human-made structures onto the seafloor, you need to have biological goals in place. This ensures that your artificial reef, or 500 statues in this case, contains organisms that can co-exist in a way that mimics the natural food web over time instead of throwing it out of balance.

2. Are the statues secure?

Artificial reefs can unintentionally damage surrounding sensitive marine habitats during storms. In the U.S., strong storms can move old, sunken naval ships across the seafloor, creating deep scour depressions and plowing through live bottom habitat. Mr. Taylor’s work has been damaged by storms and part of it collapsed. What happened to those collapsed pieces? Did they move or, worse, damage a nearby sensitive habitat? Without proper monitoring, you won’t know if you’re making progress towards your biological goals or if you’ve accidently damaged nearby habitats.

3. What is the conservation goal, and is it actually being fulfilled?

Currently, about 750,000 people visit MUSA annually. Mr. Taylor states that his exhibit serves as a conservation effort by drawing divers and snorkelers away from the Mesoamerican Reef. This is Mr. Taylor’s assumption since there’s no mention of monitoring or surveys to gauge if visitors are linking their visit to his statues with a visit to the Mesoamerican Reef. Without some type of monitoring, it is difficult, if not impossible, to say with certainty that few of MUSA’s visitors are swimming in the Mesoamerican Reef. MUSA could even be drawing more people to the Mesoamerican Reef.

Artificial reefs must have carefully thought-out objectives over a long timespan and be designed appropriately to achieve those objective. Additionally, there must be monitoring in place to measure progress towards the set of objectives. Otherwise, artificial reefs could inadvertently further damage the ocean that we love.

The main threats affecting the Mesoamerican Reef are climate change, fishing, shipping traffic of oil tankers, pollution from municipal waste contamination, sedimentation from inland deforestation, agricultural runoff, growing coastal development, tourism and aquaculture.

I think tourism will continue to grow in the Mesoamerican Reef, which is why our business choices are extremely important. Tourists can reduce impacts to the reef by supporting environmentally friendly businesses. This requires doing your research, which can be time consuming, but very rewarding when you’re helping the ocean you love. Check out these resources to get you started in planning an ocean-friendly exploration to the Mesoamerican Reef:

Mesoamerican Ecotourism Alliance

Sustainable Travel & Ecotourism in Mexico at Frommer’s

Centro Ecologico Sian Ka’an (CE SiaK)

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How Much Plastic Trash Clogs the Ocean? Exhibit Offers Insights http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/03/how-much-plastic-trash-clogs-the-ocean-exhibit-offers-insights/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/08/03/how-much-plastic-trash-clogs-the-ocean-exhibit-offers-insights/#comments Fri, 03 Aug 2012 15:00:50 +0000 Catherine Fox http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1922

How do you explain the magnitude of the ocean trash problem, particularly to people in a landlocked country like Switzerland? Put a representative sampling right in front of them.

Check out this video of a crew setting up an installation that’s part of the fantastic exhibit “Out to Sea? The Plastic Garbage Project” at the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich, Switzerland (soon going on tour). You can see it took some time. Unfortunately, every 15 seconds this same amount of trash enters the ocean, according to estimates from the United Nations Environment Programme.

The trash was shipped from the Hawaiian island of Kaho’olawe, where thirty volunteers spent just four days picking up this huge amount—3 tons. This massive pile includes things we all use every day, things that find their way to the water no matter where we live. Once in the water, trash threatens everything from wildlife to coastal economies.

Learn more about the project on Facebook. And in the comments section below, consider listing one way you’ll reduce your trash today.

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