Coral Reefs from Space

Seeing them from space, I mean.  That’s what I want to do. This week I was thinking about proposals for projects in countries I’ve never visited, and that sparked an idea.  Immediately I reached out to a coral scientist friend, my go-to with these queries:

Do you know a way to see a satellite view of reefs in a large area and get info about how the reefs are doing?

To clarify:  If I want to see the aerial view of surrounding waters around an island or coastline, let’s say in Dubai  and Abu Dhabi, and determine which areas were/are optimal for reefs yet are damaged or dying?  Or areas that might be susceptible to erosion and have declining reefs?  An aerial survey, yes.

I’m envisioning something like Google Earth where you can zoom in or out, get info about the corals/biodiversity below… I want to use that to help with proposals for a project. It would be so helpful to target the locations that are most likely to benefit and which have ideal conditions and communities in place for it to succeed as a long-term ecological work.  

He says:

The only thing that I am aware of that could do what you are describing would be NOAA’s Coral Watch website.  They have Google Earth maps that let you see where all of their monitoring stations are located along with data on reef health.  It is limited to places where NOAA has placed instruments and so won’t give you coverage in countries like Dubai or Abu Dhabi.  I’m not sure what you have described exists yet, although it would certainly be a very useful tool.

One of the major problems with coral reef conservation is that there doesn’t seem to be a unifying international body that collates and then summarizes and distributes all of the data from various countries.  The US has NOAA, Australia has the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), etc., but no one group organizes and displays these data on a global scale.  Best attempt is the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN), but even they don’t have what you are describing in terms of web based visualization tools.  Seems like a great idea whose time has come.  The technology to do it is there, just need some group to come forward and try it.

Cool.  I sat on it for 2 days and then saw this article in the NY Times about using satellites to find looted art from WWII.

You know, seeing this article, yet another shout out to your amazing, effective, and high impact satellite work, Sarah, I wanted to see if your mapping techniques could be useful for global imaging of coral reefs the world over targeting where they are dying? (and thriving)  Maybe hone in on holes or conditions that make it clear that the area was once populous with dense coral, or maybe it has only recently been hit by disease or bleaching…Love insight from your perspective and expertise.   

As Andrew’s email says below – the time has come, the tech is there. As a rep of coral biology and cutting edge scientific research in that realm, he sees how useful it will be. Just need to make it happen.

Coral ecosystems are still enigmatic, and the people depending on them, ready to study and work with them in a more coordinated and focused way, would really benefit from the full monty. 

Reading about your work being used to save art, very close to my heart:)..  and to study the endangered corals this way,,,super inspiring and hopeful.

She says:

I’d be happy to send some refs to you – this is totally outside my remit, but I have seen some satellite work on the subject. I am 100% focused on my archaeology projects, but I do supervise students in my lab who work on diverse subjects.  Should any in future mention this to me as a project idea I will get them in touch!

The answer:  The time has come, the tech is there, just need someone to launch this global coral space mission.

 

 

 

 

 

Crafthaus Exhibit and University of Oregon’s Full Spectrum

“I’m grading student work and who do I see? looking at me.” That was a welcome surprise tweet from @JessicaLeeGreen- University of Oregon professor, TED Senior Fellow, friend and colleague.

Restoring our Reefscape was posted by Shelby Adkisson. The Full Spectrum Biology blog is being created by students in the courses Population Ecology and Biological Diversity at the University of Oregon. It is one component of their work, and for each course will unfold throughout the term. +Jessica Green

Crafthaus curator, Greg Corman, created an online exhibit, Sculpture for Wildlife Habitat. It will be up from June 8 – July 8, and then the images will be in their archive.  For the love of bees, birds, seas…very earthy. 1970’s meets the 2000’s.

Reef re-FORMed: A Biorock Simulation

From May 2nd – May 8th, I was invited to transform a shop in DUMBO, New York, into a pop-up gallery.  Preview of the Arts and the THE CREATORS COLLECTIVE initiated a preview parlor for passers-by to experience the creative process through the premier of new works and revisited projects in a non-traditional gallery space.  Numerous artists creating dance, showing installations, and hanging wall art made site-specific projects for the glassed-in shop at 145 Front St. in Brooklyn.

Photo by John Busche

The video scenes of growing Biorock coral sculptures and underwater propagation projected on the wall in the background lured divers and ocean lovers, as well as those just curious people who found themselves meandering through a labyrinthine shopping mall.

The crocheted and needle-felted community reef was donated by Gossamer Fiber Arts in Portland, OR, back in 2008.  I’ve used it on multiple occasions for awareness and restoration re-enactments.  Thanks to Al Atarra, who runs the The Metropolitan Exchange, “a cooperative of creative professionals in Downtown Brooklyn”, I received metal from architect, Marc Fornes’ discarded designs.  That, plus some thick, flexible insulated cable was fun to reassemble into a rocky reef formation with Nick from A New Seed NYC. (somehow his last name was never spoken. He is “Nick from a New Seed”)

Needle-felted octopus by Susan Lake. Photo John Busche

The octopus gets a lot of high praise.  She almost missed this show;  luckily for all, it worked out.  Also, Downtown Yarns in Manhattan granted us a few additions to the reef, including a chambered nautilus.

My goal to do work in the ocean and share it on land keeps evolving.  For the past 3 years, I’ve been developing a concept and collecting who, how, where for an interactive, multimedia installation that correlates human health with coral health in a unique, artistic way.  I see it in my mind’s eye, and will soon show you some of the visuals and technologies that are helping me get closer.

There are incredible, interdisciplinary artists using robotics and sensory programs to reveal natural movement and data with kinetic sculptures.  They’re able to create intricate poetry and awe with movement and form.  The depth of intimacy they have with their process, from conceiving to making, is an expression of mastery, curiosity, love and dedication to bringing life-animated to technology. Somehow it seems like this investigation will have a positive feedback loop: inviting people to fall in love again with wild and mysterious beautiful plants and animals. One could argue that it might make people fall in love with robots, but I leave that open to never-ending discussion and reflection.

Pinning Inspiration

When I recently saw a ficus leaf mineral thru an electron microscope on pinterest, it reminded me of this piece from about 15 years ago. When I made it, I’d never seen a ficus leaf mineral, but I love how interrelated so many forms and patterns of nature appear to be, whether you’ve ever seen them to influence you or not.

Catching Glimpses in the Gloaming, 1998. Crocheted copper wire, cast silver dogwood blossoms, fake eyelashes, fake fur, steel wire. Photo Courtney Frisse

“I can’t even look at it,” ran through my head whenever I would see the little pin it icon. “Pinterest is going to distract me from important things.”

But now I’m coalescing Nature Patterns onto a digital board that kind of tweaks the in-love chemistry in my brain.  Pinning before bed has catalyzed beautiful, vivid dreams; something about the free associative process of following this intricate thread of visual networks is soothing while stimulating creativity. To be able to float through images, seeing some things I never knew existed in the world, is like cranking the amperage on curiosity and getting a fascination fix.

Every time I pin onto this board, I’m adding inspirational matter for future Living Sea Sculptures.  As I gravitate towards images, I see a collage emerging; it’s a valuable personal palette made from the communal well of web surfing and discovery.  Microscopic bacteria, bike chains, textiles, lava flows, and biology on land and sea reflect and imitate each other as they assemble into rivulets, orbs, bumps and repetitions. Physical forces, changing pressure and process has resulted in these…these moments captured in photographs and stills.  Somehow there is motion and color telling a story, a lifelong history embedded in the pictures, and that wordless-ness attracts and suggests new models for ocean habitat.

Sculptural porcelain by Nuala O'Donovanj

Electrifying a Reef

Part one:  Will I be shocked if I touch the sculpture while the current is flowing?  NO.  According to Dr. Thomas Goreau, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance when asked who will be liable if someone gets shocked:

“There is no possible chance of injury from the very low voltage direct current used, and the circuit has fully automatic instantaneous shutoff capability if there is any damage to the cable. We have installed more than 300 such projects in around 30 countries all around the world, and never had the slightest problem. When we install it, I will short out the circuit holding the anode and the cathode in my bare hands to show that you don’t feel anything if you do.”

Here you can watch the installation of a Living Sea Sculpture:

And another one:t

Coral Skirt

"Coral Skirt," by Colleen Flanigan. Pemuteran, Bali. copyright 2009

Komang Astika and Made find the location in Karang Lestari (Coral Protection Project).  The small sculpture will cement itself to the sandy seafloor.