Followers of our Church of the Open Sky recordings (look up! You can click directly to them from here!) will already be familiar with…
“Sheltered Passage” is a documentary project about the people and landscapes of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel on the southeast Tasmanian coast. Funded entirely by community…
There are several Shelly Beaches around the country, but this one is near Manly in New South Wales. The best way to get there is to walk from Manly along the Marine Parade. It’s a beautiful twenty-minute walk along the Cabbage Tree Bay.
This is a story of clichéd familiarity that it almost doesn’t bear repeating; of parental expectation, of a child running away, of adventure, luck and good fortune. Most of all, it’s a story of the sea.
You might recall our feature in Volume 1:2 of GOQ about the Giant Australian Cuttlefish population of the Spencer Gulf. There’s been some interesting…
A taste of selected images and pages from Volume 1:4.
Read the editorial or purchase the digital edition here – GOQ Volume 1:4
Our recent postings about Eusebio and Christina Saenz de Santamaria have drawn widespread interest. The strange beauty of humans at depth, devoid of the cumbersome apparatus required for scuba diving, is a reminder of how ill-equipped we are to mingle with creatures which have evolved to live in that environment. In addition to the aesthetic resonance of those scenes, there’s an athleticism required to wait for, and compose that shot. It takes mental strength to resist the body’s calls for a return to light and air.
Which brings us to the other side of Eusebio and Christina’s lives. In addition to photography, teaching and conservation, they are world-class athletes. Last weekend they set a new tandem freediving world record. Here’s a little about the day, from their blog at oneoceanonebreath.com
‘The world at depth for a freediver is a lonely and sometimes invisible experience. We descend by ourselves and what we feel and endure remains only within our own mind and memory. Which is one of the reasons why we (Eusebio and I) came up with the idea to descend together in the discipline of Variable Weight and this week we established a new world record and a world’s first dive for two people to descend on a weighted sled and ascend under our own power at the same time from a depth of 100 metres!
The Discovery Channel came to film our official event, which is great exposure for the sport that we love. It also added a little element of pressure on the day of the performance, which was a good learning experience. The program delved into the science of freediving, what our bodies and minds endure, the difficulties of diving as a duo as well as the technology of our equipment including our sled, which we designed and built custom-made to fit us both comfortably as well as to be hydrodynamically effective.
Safety is always a very important factor for us and we were assisted by two deep technical trimix divers stationed at 100m and 80m, two scuba divers at 40m and 30m, two safety freedivers who met us at 30 metres on our ascent, as well as a surface team who were prepared for any circumstance if necessary.
The biggest challenge for our dive was to coordinate two people who were able to prepare, descend and ascend in synchronicity to the target depth. In the first place it was necessary to be physically and mentally prepared to reach a depth of 100 metres. Secondly, we both had to be very aware of not only ourselves and our own sensations, but of the other person during the dive. We had a shared responsibility and ensured that we had clear lines of communication both on the surface and underwater in the event the dive was not going according to plan. Perhaps one advantage Eusebio and I have is that we are husband and wife and we always train together, so we have an intimate understanding and sixth sense for each other and how we are both feeling. However the duo dive was still a double-challenge in all these respects.
The ability to share a 100 metre dive together, along with the sensations and the challenges has been, to put it simply, an incredible experience and in our final weeks here in Roatan we continue to aim for new depths both alone and as a couple.’
This weekend has somehow been set aside to celebrate the unsung heroes of our coastlines, the lighthouses. Yep, it’s International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend, an event that was started by members of the Ayr Amateur Radio Group in Scotland, as a way of linking amateur radio nuts around the globe.
But lighthouses are important to all sorts of people, for reasons beyond their significance as radio repeater stations. They are invariably lovely examples of architecture (a couple of personal favourites being the bizarre atomic-looking steel structure at McCrae in Victoria and the giant Cape Wickham Lighthouse on Tasmania’s King Island). Down through history, they’ve featured in tales of heroism and bastardry, usually in the role of silent witness. A lighthouse forms the punchline to that old joke about military hubris (‘I’m a lighthouse. Your call’), and indeed the decline in their active role as navigational aids seems to have been supplanted by their increasing role as a metaphor for moral guidance.
Lighthouses are a little like journalists, employed through history to warn us of hidden danger, only to find themselves redundant in the electronic age.
Birds and lighthouses have always had a fractious relationship. Like any upright man-made structure, the lighthouse is potential roosting spot. Equally, however, their beam has attracted countless birds to their deaths. Charles Dickens talked of ‘’¦benighted sea-birds breasted on against their ponderous lanterns and fell dead’, imagery which was echoed in David Harris’s wonderful lighthouse story in our Launch issue, Nine Men’s Morris: ‘Thinking it a beacon of something better, Petrels and Shearwaters beat their bodies red against the white walls and thick glass.’
There are still lighthouse keepers out there, though their numbers are thinning. It sounds like the ultimate thing to write on any official form: Occupation ‘ Lighthouse Keeper. Despite their ranks being filled with brave souls who battled loneliness, fatigue, the cold and the toxic mercury of the lamp, it is likely that the most recognisable lighthouse keeper in history is the one featured in Jean Guichard’s 1989 photographs of giant waves off the coast of Brittany, France. It’s almost impossible to look at the man standing in the doorway of his lighthouse while a mountain of water wraps itself around the foot of the structure, without silently pleading Go inside! Shut the bloody door!
He survived, by the way.
No doubt you have a favourite lighthouse of your own, and most likely for a range of reasons that are yours alone. Drop us a line and tell us about it!
Our featured lighthouse is The Lighthouse of Punta Laxe, Galicia, Spain, from Los Percebeiros de Laxe: Great Ocean Quarterly Volume 1:3.
Photograph by Thomas Cristofoletti.
In the next issue of Great Ocean Quarterly we are privileged to have access to works from an important exhibition being held at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.
Arcadia: Sound of the sea brings together 40 photographs by John Witzig, co-founder of Tracks magazine and founder of SeaNotes; juxtaposed with seven large ink drawings by Sydney based artist Nicholas Harding, and film footage from Albert Falzon’s Morning of the Earth.
In the first issue of Tracks Nat Young wrote ‘By simply surfing we are supporting the revolution’. Reflecting the perspective of John Witzig’s publications and their treatment of Australian politics; religion; environmental conservation; and alternatives to conformist ways of living, the statement underpins the visualised conception of freedom and potential reflected in the exhibition’s carefree images of young surfers.
National Portrait Gallery Historian and exhibition Curator Dr Sarah Engledow offers that Arcadia ‘…is about how it feels to be lean, male, strong, untrammelled and irresponsible: to be a slacker with immense discretionary energy. Almost all the people represented are handsome youths. Indeed, the exhibition is a tribute to the physical bravery, beauty and ebullience of many young men ‘ which is unusual in a show that isn’t about war (although it’s true that conscription shadowed many of the individuals pictured, and many whole bodies like theirs ended up punctured and ripped up in Vietnam). Through photographs, film and text, their free-spirited, passive-revolutionary character shines. The ocean may not appear in all of the images; in fact, it’s absent from at least half of them, as well as from most of the film footage: but you can hear it, as it were. Arcadia itself, vague place of myth, wasn’t by the beach. But the exhibition as a whole ‘ comprising pictures of people, pictures of houses, pictures of banksias, heath and driftwood, pictures of campgrounds ‘ is underpinned by a Romantic conception of the awesome and spiritually restorative force of the sea’.
Dr Engledow goes on to say: “The works in Arcadia have been brought together not so much to evoke ideas, as to trigger a sensual response: to salt and fresh water, wet and dry sand, dune vegetation, undergrowth, tent canvas, floors of vans and shacks, weatherboards, hand-knitted jumpers, thin old t-shirts, corduroy, spongy neoprene, stiff hair, dog fur, noses and claws, banksia pods, firewood, seaweed and rocks. If you can feel any of those textures, if you can smell or taste any of those odours ‘ and if, senses sharpened, you can feel a seed of independence germinating within you ‘ Arcadia lives in you.’
Witzig’s photographs will be newly-printed to unprecedented size. Five sections from Falzon’s 1972 film channel dreams of an untrammelled lifestyle. Harding’s intricate drawings are a natural fit with the texture of the photographs and share their vigorous, yet gentle, sensibility. Together the photographs, film and drawings evoke textures and odours: salt and fresh water, wet and dry sand, dune vegetation, undergrowth, tent canvas, floors of vans and shacks, hand-knitted jumpers, corduroy, spongy neoprene, stiff hair, dog fur, firewood, seaweed and rocks.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue comprising reproductions of photographs and drawings from the exhibition, new short pieces and excerpts from Tracks of 1970-1972 and SeaNotes of 1977-1978.
Arcadia: Sound of the sea will be displayed at the Gallery from 14 August to 19 October 2014 and will subsequently tour to Geelong Regional Art Gallery, Victoria and Tweed Regional Art Gallery in NSW.
A taste of selected images and pages from Volume 1:3.
Artist Ben Young takes the figurative term ‘glass off’ in an unexpected direction.
Surfer, skater and professional boat-builder Ben Young must have found something in the deep greens of the Bay of Plenty on New Zealand’s north island, where he grew up. The startling emerald tone of his glass sculptures captures a sense of depth and clarity that plays on the notion of liquid form.
Working by hand from sketches, and without machine guidance, Ben layers multiple sheets of glass to achieve both texture and contour at the edges, and colour through the transparent body of the sculpture. The process is labour intensive, but the results speak for themselves.
Ben’s work is handled by Kirra Galleries in Melbourne. These photos are courtesy Robert Gray Photography, Zico O’Neill and This Is Colossal.com. You can also find Ben on Facebook, via Faith is Torment.
A SURFER’S LIFE IN ONE BRIEF SENTENCE. There’s a day for everything these days, and even surfing gets a gig. Today is International Surfing Day, so we thought we’d paddle out on the monologue.
A kind of hardbitten authenticity that spurns artifice, rings loud when you’re being had; an acute radar for big and empty talk from the very first words, and a measure of comfort with being cold, being scared, being held under, being dispossessed of oxygen or of life’s material trophies, a comfort that’s counterweighted by an irrational need, not necessarily every day or even twice a week but absolutely, compulsorily, upon the moment when it calls and says drop everything and go now, with such cogent force that maybe it isn’t irrational at all but is somehow reading you and guiding you through life’s currents, the occasional price of which is dishonesty; the willingness to lie straight-faced to loved ones, employers and if pushed, law enforcement officials, to ensure a fix, and thus it is my unfortunate duty sir to report that Grandma died, I had to see the dentist, I was out of the water but the others took ages to come in, I’ve really only got one yellow board (it just looks longer in some lights), you never get good swell round here, we’re not camping, we’re counting plovers, I did the dishes, I haven’t seen your husband, grandma died again; the trail of clues often falling to ground though a love of the ephemera, because the little pleasures that arise around the edges of the surfing act are nearly as good in aggregation as surfing itself, amongst which it is proper to count campfires, the smell and feel of a new board, sleeping on beaches, the occult relationship between music and footage, country pubs, feats of improbable eating, travelling with friends, laughing like a fool when fatigue has consumed the whole world, immersion in strange lands and cultures armed with a thing, much like music, that transcends the differences and draws people together round intrinsic themes like being weather obsessed, because no-one watches the sky, or the newspaper, or the internet closer: leading to patently absurd exchanges that go how was it? Yeah good but I reckon it’ll turn onshore this arv then it should straighten tomorrow and pick up a bit, like your bunions started aching or you studied ducks’ nests or chicken entrails or tapped a brass barometer while you smoked a pipe in your personal lighthouse, when in fact you both checked the same mass-subscription satellite forecasting service half an hour ago, although such exchanges are a measure of the commonality that exists between us, gifted as we are with one of the few things that money cannot ever under any circumstances procure even though we live in an age when it can purchase the appearance of truth through media concentration, a perfect nose or a private army; for only vast amounts of repetition and desire can deliver a full-throttle roundhouse; an unspoken truth shared when nodding sagely at the best man’s nose gushing seawater during a wedding speech, an unfathomable unity of purpose which predicates that the same snark who turned the road sign around to put you off the scent also installed a rope on the last tricky bit of the cliff descent; a loose affinity of likeminded solitary creatures who grudgingly prefer each other’s company to that of the gormless, unsurfing hordes, such affinity existing in spite of the staggering diversity of approaches, between those who sitkneelstandpaddle, put it all on red and spin the wheel, charging into imminent death; those who flap and twitch over listless shorebreaks with one eye on dying in their sleep at an advanced age , the graceful, the graceless, the garrulous and silent, those who towel off to pull on a hi-vis shirt, an Italian suit, a prosthetic leg, a bucket bong, a balaclava, all of them beholden to the addictive rush of the loading of the senses; the massive endorphin hit triggered by all five and an innominate sixth or seventh singing in a loin’stirring harmony that no other human activity can deliver, feeling the fingertips tracing the curvature of a standing, spinning wall of perfectly smooth water beside you, (a sensation which for every other schmuck is unavailable outside of possessing a giant centrifuge and the willingness to climb into it), knowing the agreeable tension between the shoulders that will last until sleep returns, and comes of paddling miles, spending hours chasing instants; tasting salt, smelling hot grass or the town bakery or the traffic of the damned on the offshore, hearing the zippertooth tear of a clean lip incising the surface, waves sucking in the surrounding air and then expelling it in an intimate and unrepeatable act of planetary respiration; seeing moments of pure and applied physics, your turns written as a bubble trail on the surface even after the wave has passed and died, a bird a fish a friend a cliff face lit warm by the dying day, hell yes even a shark; the privilege of being party to such sanctity coming as it does with a price ‘ custodianship for all of this, because each of us, whether campaigner or agnostic, feels a pang of something dire every time the perpetuation of all this beauty is placed under threat, reasoning that whilst the meek may inherit the earth, their domain will end at the high tide line and the ocean will forever be ours.
Image: 60 year old cancer survivor and master surfboard shaper Maurice Cole at a break he has ridden for almost fifty years. Photographer: Ed Sloane
And Then We Swam is an award-winning documentary which tells the true story of two friends who set out to cross the Indian Ocean in a secondhand boat’¦ having never rowed before in their lives. It’s an English idea, this, in the endearingly, quaintly mad tradition of English ideas. The film-maker, Ben Finney, had worked at the BBC and was a volcanologist in a previous life, which qualifies him about as much as his two protagonists to make a film about crossing an ocean.
Those protagonists are James Adair and Ben Stenning. The two of them have an affable craziness about them, a homely antidote to all those super-athletes you’ve seen doing incredible things with phenomenally expensive toys. These guys came from a couch like yours, which is what makes the sheer audacity of what they did all the more incredible.
Nobody thought they’d make it across 3500 miles of open ocean. 116 gruelling days later, off the coast of Mauritius and just five miles from the finish line, things started to go horribly wrong. This is the story of two unlikely adventurers who crossed an ocean to prove everyone wrong – but very nearly proved everyone right.
You can learn more about this fateful trip in James’s book, Rowing After the White Whale.
You might recall back in our issue 1:1 (that’s the one with Kristianne Koch’s beautiful shorebreak image of her son on the cover), we ran a photo-essay called ‘The Fall’. Several of the shots in that feature were taken at a place called The Right, in Western Australia. As with all still photography of moving ocean, the images provided a unique insight into the shape, texture and geometry of those waves. But seeing them in footage, at full speed, gives quite a different perspective. WARNING: this clip is not relaxing, tranquil or pretty. But it is extraordinary.
Cinematography by Tim Bonython. To be featured in ASMF 12 Touring Nov/December 2014.
A window on the exquisite beauty of freediving
One Ocean One Breath is a collaboration between husband and wife team Eusebio and Christina Saenz de Santamaria. They’re both professional freedivers, which must be a remarkable thing to be able to write on your departure card or your tax return. (‘What do you do for a living? Oh, I plunge to extraordinary depths on a single breath in a crystal clear ocean and make films about my experiences’¦’)
Freediving is an elite and highly technical sport, comprising a number of different classes or events. It’s not simply a matter of heaving in a giant breath and swimming downwards, but involves extensive training and an array of complex equipment. The locations are frequently stunning: from open ocean settings to cliff edges and sinkholes, with visibility reaching astonishing levels.
Eusebio and Christina live in Thailand, on the tiny, idyllic atoll of Koh Tao, where the islanders are almost all involved in one way or another with diving. Nearby Chumpon Pinnacle is a famous location for viewing whale sharks and bull sharks. Eusebio is a highly regarded freediving and spearfishing teacher, and has held multiple depth-category records for freediving in his native Spain. He’s capable of freediving to 100 metres without sled assistance, a feat which places him in a rare class of athletes.
Christina is an Australian, and indeed is the most successful female freediver in Australian history, despite only discovering the sport in 2005. In recent days, she’s been competing in Roatan in the Caribbean, reaching 80 metres in the Constant Weight dive, 78 metres in Free Immersion and 50 metres in the Constant No Fins dive. These results placed her as the deepest female in Free Immersion and Constant Weight, narrowly giving her victory in the women’s competition overall.
Along the way, Eusebio and Christina have amassed a stunning collection of stills and video from their diving. Not all of it focuses on the sport of freediving: they have an eye to conservation and also to the beauty of just being in the ocean.
For more, have a look at www.oneoceanonebreath.com
Josva Halseide grew up in Colorado, far from the sea. He and his best friend would watch ocean movies repeatedly, winter after winter, dreaming of surfing and sailing.
His work first appeared in the finale issue of Potpourri: A Magazine of the Literary Arts (2003), and in 2008 he received the best original writing award (poetry/prose) from St. John’s College, Santa Fe. Josva’s lovely sonnet, Ocean Wave, River Wave seems to hark back to his long-remembered days of pining for immersion in an ocean you can’t reach.
Sunday, 8 June is World Oceans Day, a serious opportunity to reflect on the state of our oceans and to make some commitments about improving their health. It can be hard to know how to mark such a day, but fear not: the editorial team at Great Ocean have developed a one-size-fits-all list of WOD activities. As it says on the packet, just add water’¦
We’d love to know your suggestions for our list. Or better yet, tell us afterwards what you got up to. You can share your wacky and wonderful WOD whimsy here on our website, or on Facebook or Twitter. Splash out!
- Find yourself somewhere to check out the sea at sunrise. There’s nothing lovelier in all of creation. (And then take a photo and post it on GOQ‘s Instagram!) Our sunrise is at Gnaraloo Station, in the far north west of Western Australia.
- Do that thing that footballers do for recovery ‘ you know, hold your jumper around your ribs and walk around in the shallows, carefully avoiding the stingrays while you huff and puff.
- Take that long-promised surf lesson.
- Make your peace with yacht rock. It’s quite soothing, and Christopher Cross had his heart in the right place. Sort of.
- Farmed seafood for breakfast anyone?
- Splash on a bit of Old Spice. You’ll swear you’re at the helm of an eighty-foot ketch.
- Go snorkelling. You’ll need bulk rubber to do it this weekend in southern Australia, but something interesting always happens when you snorkel. And you feel amazing afterwards.
- Eight, I forget what eight was for’¦
- Take a bag to the beach and collect ten pieces of plastic. Then chuck ‘em in a bin. Walk with a halo over your head for several hours.
- Stroll along a wharf and take at stickybeak at the goings-on on the fishing boats.
- Try rock-pooling with the kids. But make sure everyone knows what a blue-ringed octopus looks like.
- Get out a world globe – a proper, spherical one, not the virtual one on the computer – and give it a spin. All that blue’¦ it’s utterly mind-boggling. More than 70 % of the earth’s surface is ocean.
- A beachside cafÃ©. Any beachside cafÃ©. Just because.
- Get someone to throw a stick into the water for your dog to fetch, then lie on the bottom with a face-mask on and watch the dog swimming after it. Hilarious. Until the dog spies you and tries to climb aboard.
- Read some Hemingway. Preferably The Old Man and the Sea, but To Have and Have Not will do the trick. Such economy with words, and yet so vivid.
- Learn about the reef nearest to you. What lives in it? What threatens it?
- Watch The Life Aquatic. Why? Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, cutaway boats, David Bowie in Portuguese, Jeff Goldblum’s stolen espresso machine’¦so many reasons.
- Subscribe to Great Ocean Quarterly. You didn’t really think this list was going to be ad-free did you?
- Work out the difference between El Nino and La Nina. There’s heaps of good information about it, and it directly affects your weather if you live anywhere near the Pacific.
- Find a spot where you can sit high on a clifftop above a thundering shorebreak, wrap yourself in a heavy coat as the wind rips through your hair and’¦there. Have you ever looked cooler in your whole life?
- Dress up like Jacques-yves Cousteau. You will need: wire-frame spectacles, any pale blue shirt, and a red beanie. Voila!
- Try to explain, in 25 words or less, what on earth’s going on in Moby Dick.
- Pull out some photos from your favourite beach holiday.
- Take a photograph of a lighthouse. Of course it’s a clichÃ©, but some clichÃ©s exist for very good reasons.
- Talk to a scientist. Nobody ever used to talk to scientists, and they only talked to each other. Now we’re the frog in the pot and someone’s turned the flame up. And contrary to what you might’ve been hearing, scientists know more about the pot, and the flame, than the rest of us.
- Watch a seabird. That there is perfect aerodynamics.
- Have a smell of the breeze over a low-tide reef.
- Read Tim Winton and thank your gods that Australia wound up with a National Laureate of the Sea.
- If you can’t be near the ocean on World Oceans Day, make sure you are near a Jon Frank photograph.
- Have a think about the ocean crossing that is attempted every time an asylum seeker boat tries to reach our shores. This is not a political message. Just think about it.
- Family fish and chips at the beach. Daggy fun. No dishes.
- Take the kids for a treasure hunt in the dunes. To create an instant nameplate for a Dutch caravel, you’ll need an angle-grinder and a four foot length of driftwood.
- If you’re tiring, get out the Drones’ second album Wait Long by the River‘¦ Cue it to track one, Shark Fin Blues, and crank the dial to eleven. Not tired any more, are you?
- Make an ocean promise: https://www.flickr.com/groups/ocean_promise/pool/
- Try stand-up paddle-boarding. You don’t have to be a he-man, and the view down into the water from a standing position is pretty special.
- Come up with as many synonyms as you can for ‘blue.’ This is a primary prerequisite for jobs in the Great Ocean editorial team. And it gets really hard after ‘cerulean.’
- Go shuffling for pippis. It only works on some surfbeaches, but it’s like some lost 60s dance craze, only you get edible shellfish at the end, and a whole lotta sand between your teeth.
- Track down the other thirty-five of Hokusai’s Views of Mt Fuji. The Great Wave Off Kanagawa is probably the Mona Lisa of seascapes, but all of his work was fascinating and driven by a love of the ocean.
- Walk a beach. Any beach. One end to the other, looping from the wet sand up to the high tide line and back down again. Must be done barefoot. Follow your footprints home.
- Revisit The Big Blue. It’s twenty-six years old now, and has some awkward dolphin moments, but Jean-Marc Barr and Jean Reno are magnificent. And the free-diving scenes are scary-real.
- Tune in to an episode of The Octonauts. It’s made for four-year-olds, but they really do get up to some excellent adventures. And they have environmental principles, too.
- Study a marine chart. There’s so many nooks and crannies that they make the most horrendous street directories look simple.
- Learn to make a whale face on your smartphone screen: http://archiveofourown.org/works/299805
- Try eating marine plants ‘ full of Omega 3s and highly sustainable. And hey! Stop calling them sea-weeds. They’re supposed to be there.
- Tune in to 3RRR FM’s Radio Marinara. The Marinara team have been broadcasting funny, smart, interesting programs about the ocean for fifteen years ‘ the perfect soundtrack to a lazy Sunday morning coffee.
- How are you going with yacht rock? Have you tried Rod Stewart’s Atlantic Crossing? Maybe some Jimmy Buffett?
- Find a straight stretch of road, put the odometer on and drive for eleven kilometres. You’ve just covered the vertical depth of the Challenger Deep, north of Papua New Guinea, the deepest point in the world’s oceans.
- Get down to your local sailing club and give it a try. They’ll love showing you the ropes. Or lines. Or sheets. ‘What does this one do?’ And afterwards they’re most likely to shout you a beer. It’s all good.
- Take your kids to an aquarium and see those critters close up.
- Go for a ride in a glass-bottomed boat.
- If you can’t find a glass-bottomed boat, make a viewing tube with 50cm of wide-gauge poly-pipe, a circle of Perspex to fit on one end and some silicone sealant to keep it in place. Maybe a couple of timber dowel handles if you’re a perfectionist ‘ and you’ve got a mobile window on the undersea world.
- Take your local coastal walk.
- Contemplate this: the water you’re looking at when you gaze out to sea has been there for at least four billion years.
- Look up the Pacific Gyre. Easily the most frightening sea monster in recorded history, and we all made it.
- Check out the Volvo Ocean Race. High-tech + high seas = high stakes. http://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/home.html
- Learn a bit about wave-generated energy’¦ and you’ll find yourself wondering why we still dig stinky holes in the ground. http://www.carnegiewave.com/
- Watch a Nathan Oldfield film ‘ The Heart and the Sea is a good place to start. He’s a film-maker with a unique vision of humans at play in the ocean.
- Dig the classics: Conrad, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, The Odyssey, Lord Jim, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket‘¦ It’ll be helpful if the weather’s terrible on Sunday. So much to read.
- Find a fossil. They’re there if you look.
- Follow a fantastic oceanographer on Twitter: Kim Martini tweets as ‘Rejected Banana’ (no, we don’t know why) and she’s the only person living who can make the deployment of an ocean monitoring buoy hysterically funny.
- Find an old person going for a swim at the beach and ask them what they get out of it. The answer is bound to be heart-warming.
- Put your finger on a sea-anemone and feel it clamp shut. Strange, eh?
- Adopt a penguin: www.penguinfoundation.org.au
- Make a cool submersible vehicle out of LEGO.
- Go prawning. Or shrimping, if you must call it that.
- Spend an hour in the dunes with a pair of binoculars and ‘ (you’re wondering where this is going, aren’t you) ‘ Simpson and Day’s Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. You’ll be amazed how many you spot. Birds, that is.
- Float a model boat in an estuary. If you’re anywhere near Lorne, the Love Lorne Model Boat Regatta promises to be a highlight: http://www.lovelorne.com/
- Drive the Great Ocean Road’¦ but keep them fancy peepers on the white line, okay?
- Shout yourself a gigantic mansion on a cliff edge with ocean views and a horizon pool, because you deserve it. Okay, sorry, that was an outburst. Can you imagine the maintenance?
- Hunt through second-hand shops until you find a copy of James Hamilton-Paterson’s Seven Tenths: The Sea and its Thresholds. Sciencey, literate, utterly brilliant.
- Visit a local maritime museum.
- If you’re anywhere near the Bay of Fundy on the American Atlantic coast, check where you left your towel. The tidal range there is up to 16.3 metres, or 53.5 feet in the old money.
- Make a sand castle. And make sure the kids stomp on it at the end.
- Find a place where you can see snow and ocean simultaneously.
- Ponder the great mystery of the Mercator Projection. How do you depict the surface of a ball on a flat sheet without distorting it?
- Book a trip to the Antarctic.
- Find a delightful foreign translation for an English-named sea creature. The colourful Nudibranch, for instance, is known in Spanish as the Nudibranquio.
- Sing a traditional sea shanty. Danny Spooner’s the national expert at this sort of thing: http://www.dannyspooner.com/
- Dress up in scuba gear. There are people for whom this is a’¦Thing.
- Actually go scuba diving. It’s an incredibly liberating experience to breathe underwater.
- Read one of the host of modern Australian writers who do beautiful ocean: Favel Parrett, Gregory Day, Jack Finlay, Rebecca Olive, Dave Harris, Edwina Collins, Lisa Jacobson, Brendan McAloon, Karen Morrow, Fiona Capp, Andrew Crockett, Flip Shelton, Geoff Heriot, Mary-Jane Daffy’¦hang on, that’s amazing! They’ve all written for Great Ocean!
- Try writing a list of 101 things to do today. Gets pretty tough in the mid-seventies, huh?
- Buy yourself a mind-blowing photographic print of the sea from a local photographer.
- Work out the exact antipode of your location on the earth’s surface. Chances are if you’re Australian, it’s smack in the middle of the Atlantic.
- Try making a simple car journey by celestial navigation, then marvel at how explorers crossed open ocean for centuries without landmarks.
- Join an organisation that cares for our oceans: www.marineconservation.org.au, www.seashepherd.org.au
- Latch onto an ocean issue and understand it. Plenty to choose from: acidification, coral bleaching, fisheries management, the shark cull in WA, Abbot Point, Antarctic whaling’¦
- Paddle a tandem sea kayak. Feels like Hawaii Five’O crossed with relationship counselling and an occasional splash of cold water in the face.
- Go back to basics and fish from an old timber pier using a handline.
- Revisit tip #9, but instead of throwing that discarded plastic in the rubbish, try making art out of it. (There’s a beautiful example by artist Peter Day on page 118 of Great Ocean issue 1:2.)
- Five-star dinner party: gather friends with wheelbarrows. Take a trestle table, linen, cutlery, candles and glassware to the beach, along with food and wine, out to rocky point overlooking the ocean. Re-heat a pre-cooked meal on a little gas burner and you’re dining with the stars.
- Eat some sustainable seafood: King George whiting, bream, calamari’¦you don’t need to eat endangered species to live high on fish. You can get it at the market then invite the neighbours in and tell ‘em you caught it.
- Watch the sun go down over the water. If you took up tip #1 and watched the sun rise over the water, then you’ve got a drive ahead of you.
- Go skinny-dipping with a friend.
- Memorise the Beaufort Wind Scale. It gets very tricky around Force 9: ‘Spray may reduce visibility’.
- Find the Pisces constellation in the southern sky. Now can you see a fish in that? Didn’t think so’¦
- Read your kids a book from Great Ocean‘s ‘Top Ten Kids’ Books About the Sea’: convenient list located here: http://www.greatocean.com.au/2014/05/13/the-goq-list-ten-kids-books-about-the-sea/
- If you’re religiously inclined, finish off World Oceans Day with the Mariners’ Prayer (http://www.marinersclub.org.hk/Prayer/seaman.htm). And if you’re not religiously inclined, this is an excellent opportunity to steal chocolate.
- Sleep in a T-shirt by any of the Hawaiian surfboard shapers. They’re all super-cool.
- Go to bed with the soothing sound of the ocean in your ears. If you can’t hear it from where you’re sleeping, there are some excellent podcasts’¦
- Will you listen to one more plea on behalf of yacht rock?
A taste of selected images and pages from Volume 1:2.
A taste of selected images and pages from Volume 1:1.
Film-maker Thomas Castets has just had a very big weekend.
His groundbreaking surf film, Out In The Lineup, has just won both the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival, and the Best Surf Film Award at the Byron Bay International Film Festival.
Out In the Lineup is a challenging examination of surfing’s attitudes to homosexuality ‘ showing us both the pain and damage that are wrought by ignorance, and also the life-affirming solace to be found in the ocean. The interviews, and archival and water footage, are world class: and the issue could not be more important. As the surfers in this film remind us, the process of coming out – and the reactions of others – are literally a matter of life and death for many.
Check out a trailer above: the DVD drops soon. And Thomas’s film screens this weekend at the Queer Film Festival at ACMI in Melbourne: get along, enjoy a great film and learn something vital.
What: Out In the Lineup
When: Sunday 16 March at 3pm
Where: ACMI Theatre 2, Federation Square Melbourne.
When Great Ocean Quarterly first opened its doors, we relied on a handful of artists to trust us and understand the concept of the journal, sight unseen, from the beginning. Among the most enthusiastic of these was Ray Collins. He sat down at his new desk after introducing himself to all our staff, and proceeded to make visual magic for us of a rare kind.
Ray’s trademark images of backlit, empty waves; his attention to the minutiae of breathing air over water, are becoming an integral part of GOQ‘s look and feel. This is reinforced in no small part by the image Nikon have used for their back cover advertisement ‘ the luminous emerald crest of a peaking slab wave on a dark ocean.
This beautiful short film offers an insight into Ray’s methods and his single-minded determination. Shots like those we featured in Mick Sowry’s photo-essay The Fall, and those which illustrated Karen Morrow’s story My Father’s Footprints, do not come about by hopeful snapping ‘ they’re the product of artistic instinct and relentless dedication.
It’s great to have you aboard, Ray.
Imagine a train carriage ‘ one of those really Hill Street Blues-looking steel ones that always feature in subway chase scenes on American TV, and then fill it with fish: lobsters, crabs, starfish, cod, mackerel and even a shark and an octopus or two. A recent US recycling project made this vision a reality, dumping outmoded subway carriages at sea to form artificial reefs that build up habitat. This intriguing little piece comes to us courtesy of the New York Times.
The brig Astrid was a 100ft sailing vessel built in the Netherlands nearly 100 years ago. Her life was an eventful one, such that an end of the spectacular kind depicted above was perhaps inevitable.
Originally named WUTA, Astrid was sold to a Swede named Jeppson in 1937 and re-named. Her rigging was taken down and she operated for many years by diesel power alone, trading across the North and Baltic Seas. Later, sailing under a Lebanese flag, the brig is rumoured to have been involved in drug smuggling, and was in fact under chase by the English customs authorities when she caught fire.
Little is known of the vessel after that incident, until she was rediscovered by a sailor named Graham Neilson, abandoned and burnt out off the coast of England in the early 1980s. A trust was established to pay for the vessel’s restoration, and under British ownership she sailed in full regalia at public events and competed in Tall Ships races. Operating as a sail training vessel, she made multiple crossings of the Atlantic.
In her latter years, Astrid was sold by the trust and converted again, this time into a luxury cruising vessel, based out of historic Weymouth Harbour in Dorset. She featured in a series of Finnish postage stamps in 1997, dedicated to famous tall ships.
Astrid struck a shallow reef while entering harbour past Ballymacus Point in County Cork, southern Ireland, in broad daylight on 24 July last year. She was talking part in a fifty-vessel regatta organised by Ireland at the time of the mishap. The thirty people on board were rescued by lifeboat and another tall ship, and over subsequent months efforts were made to salvage her, to no avail. Her insurers declared her a total loss: she is destined to be cut up for scrap.
While vacationing on the Maldives Islands, Taiwanese photographer Will Ho encountered a stretch of beach covered in millions of bioluminescent phytoplankton. These tiny organisms glow similarly to fireflies and tend to emit light when stressed, such as when waves crash or when they are otherwise agitated. While the phenomenon and its chemical mechanisms have been known for some time (particularly to sailors ploughing through a darkened sea), biologists have only recently began to understand the reasons behind it.
Beaches across southern California have recently experienced eerie, glowing waves, brought about by a similar phenomenon: in that case caused by a red tide, or algae bloom, of bioluminescent phytoplankton, Lingulodinium polyedrum. A surfboard slashing across a wave face, or a kayaker’s paddle dipping the water, is enough to emit pulses of heavenly light.
The algal blooms give the water a soupy red coloration by day, which is why they’re often referred to as a red tide. But unlike some forms of red tide that can be toxic to people and marine life, the glowing blooms that occurred in San Diego waters were reportedly harmless.
For surfers who don’t mind catching a wave in water teeming with a sludge of microorganisms, the glowing ocean offers the chance of a lifetime. Night swimmers also often delight in the opportunity to lounge in a bioluminescent sea. The organisms can also be present in wet beach sand, so that beach walkers can leave a trail of glowing footsteps.
Researchers have completed the most extensive study of the Hawai’i Island spinner dolphin population to date, with the data to be used to inform the local management agency. Lead researcher Julian Tyne, from the Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit, said there were concerns that human activities were having a negative impact on the dolphins.
“Hawai’i’s spinner dolphins have a rigid daily routine, foraging for food in the open ocean at night and returning to sheltered bays to rest and socialise during the day,” he said. “These bays have seen a significant increase in tourist activity over the past twenty years, with a surge in dolphin-watching boat tours and businesses offering the opportunity to interact with dolphins.
“It has previously been suggested that the dolphins are spending less time in the sheltered bays and that their rest is being interrupted, which may impact their ability to forage efficiently and spot predators.”
The project is a collaboration between Murdoch University (Perth, Western Australia) and Duke University (Durham, North Carolina). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Marine Mammal Commission, Dolphin Quest and Murdoch University funded the research. Researchers spent over two and a half years on Hawai’i Island, using modern visual and acoustic technology to collect baseline data. “From the first year of our study, we estimated that there are 631 spinner dolphins among the Hawai’i Island associated stock, which is lower than any previous estimate, with a survival rate of 97 per cent,” Mr Tyne said. “These dolphins don’t tend to mix with dolphins from other islands, meaning they are genetically distinct.
“When this is combined with their rigid daily routine and ease of human access to the dolphins in their preferred resting habitats, they may be more vulnerable to negative impacts.”
In 2006, the Government of Western Australia reduced the number of commercial boat tour licences operating in the Shark Bay / Monkey Mia region, following the results of a similar study into the region’s bottlenose dolphins. Mr Tyne said Hawaiian authorities were considering a number of strategies to help mitigate the impact of human interactions on the spinner dolphin population.
“Most people have good intentions and are excited at the idea of interacting with dolphins,” he said. “These interactions need to be managed to protect animals from harm, while ensuring the sustainability of wildlife tourism in Hawai’i.” The study has been published in open access journal PLOS ONE and is available at this link: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0086132
Great photography has an occult ability to render dangerous things in a deceptively beautiful light. Eric Sterman’s quadcopter footage of Pipeline is a revelation: we see the corrugated lava surface of the reef, the acceleration of the surfer through takeoff, bottom turn and barrel, the abstract plumes of spray’¦ from an unfamiliar, gull’s eye perspective. And the notorious north shore crowds, spotted from above, then serenely absent during heats of the Pipeline Masters in December.
Deakin University together with ShipShapeSearchers (http://shipshapesearchers.org/) are undertaking a project to gather remotely-sensed data to help discover potential shipwrecks that may have resulted from collisions with an offshore pinnacle named Helen Rock, off Armstrong Bay, 1.5 km south of Tower Hill, in southwest Victoria.
The project team will explore how maritime cultural heritage can be observed using remotely-sensed data including information from their sonar system. There have been numerous eyewitness accounts of shipwrecks in the area, since the early nineteenth century. Helen Rock is a pinnacle less than 4m below the surface, with steep slopes down to 35 metres. The peak has been known to occasionally break the surface in big seas. Considering its distance offshore, there is potential for Helen Rock to act as a ‘ship trap’.
In the event of collision, a distressed sailing vessel would very likely make an attempt to make it to shallower water, or indeed attempt to enter the lagoon outflow to the north. There is high probability of wreck remains still being there, and these remains would include jettisoned materials, which may be detectable.Data gathered from this project will also assist in understanding of the submerged paleo- landscape. Results of this study will go towards a further understanding of how historic shipwreck material may be discovered using remote sensing techniques.
This in turn will also lead to the promotion of underwater cultural heritage for the local and wider community. You can find more of Deakin University’s remarkable undersea imaging in GOQ’s feature, ‘The Unseen Land of Bass Strait’ in Issue 1/2014, on sale 23 January.
This video was filmed during a Backscatter expedition to Lembeh, Indonesia by Jeff Honda using Sola Nightsea Blue lights by Light & Motion. For more information about these lights, please visit: backscatter.com/sku/lmi-850-0213.lasso
This type of videography is possible using two elements – a blue light source to excite fluorescence from underwater organisms and a barrier filter to remove everything except the fluorescent light. Jeff Honda spent an entire week filming this, dedicating several hours each night meticulously setting up his tripod to capture these sequences. The amount of light being reflected back from the subjects is significantly less than what you would see using normal white light, so framing and exposures are significantly more challenging.