Archive for the ‘Ocean’ Category

Monsters of the sea

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Arion by Albrecht Dürer - 1514

The ocean has always been shrouded in mystery because it is almost entirely hidden. Imagine a time before submarines and scuba gear, before ships ventured beyond the horizon. People literally did not know what was out there, above or below the surface, and had to rely on stories from sailors. It’s no wonder that myths and legends grew up around the sea.

But even as the ocean was a mysterious and hazardous place, it also inspired romantic notions of adventure and discovery. Even as people conjured up visions of sea monsters, they searched the world to prove their existence. The sea represented something just out of reach, something we wanted to know better.

And now in the twenty-first century, do we know the sea better? We know a lot more than we used to, but there is so much that remains a mystery, in some ways we are still like our ancestors, groping around in the dark.

Here are some images from artists long ago trying to depict the creatures of the sea. They come from a wonderful website called Strange Science where you can see more such monstrosities. These days we can photograph any animal we like, though an artist’s depiction can sometimes tell you a lot more, even those that come entirely from the artist’s imagination. Today we still try to imagine the things we cannot see, and probably always will.

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The Big, Blue Ocean

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
Illustration by Alicia “Kat” Dillman

Summer is here, and for the next six weeks or so, I am going to devote this blog to one of our greatest and most inspiring natural resources, the ocean.

Since ancient history, the ocean has inspired art, poetry and storytelling in every culture. In fact there are so many great works of art and literature about the ocean, I think we’ve taken it for granted as one of those eternal things in life that will always be there, impervious to anything. The ocean is always described as “mighty” and “powerful”, something that humans must battle and which always has the upper hand.

Anyone who has witnessed a storm at sea knows how powerful it is, yet it is not invulnerable, as we’ve learned in recent months. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is only the latest and most visible blow to a living ecosystem that is slowly dying. So in the next few weeks, I will be highlighting some famous and not so famous art, books and films inspired by the ocean, to help us all gain a better understanding and appreciation of why it is so unique.

I’d like to start by highlighting a wonderful blog called Ripple started by artist Kelly Light to help animals harmed by the recent oil spill. The images in this post are all from that site, and I encourage you to check it out.

Also, the Smithsonian Institution has a new website called Ocean Portal, which has many cool features about the ocean’s history and ecology, definitely worth taking a peek.

Illustration by Gina Marie Perry

Illustration by Alicia Padron

Illustration by Renee Kurilla

Illustration by Katriona Chapman

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