Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pteropods and the Arts

Gareth here. We scientists are not the only ones inspired to work on pteropods and their response to ocean acidification. We have counterparts in the Arts who also find these beautiful little animals fascinating, and who express their concerns about the impact of ocean acidification on pteropods and marine ecosystems through their respective media.

Below, for instance, is a youtube version of Sam Lardner's song "Pteropods," which has become the unofficial anthem of our cruise:

Our group has also recently started a collaboration with Cornelia Kavanagh, a sculptor who often takes inspiration from nature and who is currently working on a series of pieces on pteropods, interpreting via the medium of sculpture the impacts of ocean acidification on these animals. Cornelia will be showing these works in her gallery in spring of 2012, and the plan is for us to provide some materials providing a scientific background on pteropods and their place in the food web. You can see some of Cornelia's wonderful earlier works at

Below are some recent photos of various pteropod species we've caught in our net system over the past few days. Hopefully the pictures capture how delicate and beautiful these animals are, and you can appreciate why people are inspired to sing about/sculpt/study them!

Pteropods come in a variety of shell types and sizes. These Calvolinia inflexa are about 5mm in length and have a complex shape with delicate spines. [Photo: Nancy Copley]

These Styliola subula are about 4mm in length and have an elongated shell. [Photo: Nancy Copley]
Clio polita, a rare species of pteropod and the largest we've caught so far. This individual came up in a net that sampled between 800 and 1000m below the surface. [Photo: Alex Bergan]

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