Monday Inspiration: Persian Ceiling by Dale Chihuly

This past weekend I took a road trip to Richmond, VA and was thrilled to be introduced to the ethereal artistry of the glassworks created by Dale Chihuly at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. In particular from this exhibit, the piece ‘Persian Ceiling‘ is an experience I wanted to share. As I gazed up into the illuminated glass ceiling with the gleaming and luminescent art densely piled up (practically to the sky!),  I was certain I had been transformed to another point in time.

It was as if I was witness to the Great Barrier Reef at its apex in species diversity and brilliance of color. I wondered how he created such movement in still objects – spectacular! No doubt I was head-over-heels impressed due to the beautiful daylight that was paired with the exhibit space. I also found it incredibly playful how Chiluly interspersed echinoderms, mollusks, and cephalopods to give the illusion that you’re indeed walking under the sea (see if you can spot them in the images below). If you have the opportunity, you cannot go wrong with investigating the work of Chihuly. If you’re lucky enough to see his work first hand, it will surely brighten your day and have your feeling inspired.



Images (c) Beach Chair Scientist

Finned foliage

I wanted to share this image of anthias swimming in the Red Sea to usher in the briskness of autumn! As you know it’s my favorite time to beachcomb, but it’s also my favorite time to be surrounded by the brilliant-colored leaves of trees. The reds, yellows, and oranges are as vibrant as a coral reef

These schooling anthias are interesting because they are born one sex, but then change to another. In fact, all anthias are born female and only change to male if the male in their school dies. Most anthias remain female their entire life. This type of hermaphrodite is known as protogynous (proh-TAH-guh-nus). If it were the other way (beginning their life as male and changing to female) it would be known as protandrous (pro–TAN-dur-us).

RedseaAnthiasThe image is from Free Underwater Images, a new favorite resource. This website “promotes increased awareness of the marine environment by allowing users to download free, high quality underwater photos.  All images are in the public domain and free for any use without prior written permission and without fee or obligation. Images can be used for any non commercial purpose”.

Why are our seas collapsing? and have come together to produce a powerful infographic outlining 8 threats to the ocean (overfishing, whaling, factory fishing, global warming, pollution, factory fishing, bycatch, and pirate fishing). Creator Samantha Sanders did a phenomenal job designing the infographic with rich and vivid images detailing supporting evidence such as the destruction of coral reefs and the global decline of the tuna population. For instance, “There are 109 countries with coral reefs. Reefs in 90 of them are damaged by cruise ships anchors and sewage, by tourists breaking off chucks of coral, and by commercial sales to tourists.” Please share and feel free to comment your thoughts on the ‘Collapsing Seas’ infographic.

10 justifications ocean acidification is a serious concern

Ocean acidification (OA) is the process by which the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2). This process creates chemical reactions that reduce 1) seawater pH, 2) carbonate ion concentration, and 3) saturation states of biologically important calcium carbonate minerals (the minerals floating within the water column that many shellfish absorb to create stronger shells).

Here are 10 reasons OA is a serious concern. Keep in mind the science community has just begun to scratch the surface of OA impacts to the marine ecosystem and new findings are always being revealed.

  • OA is one of the greatest threats to marine biodiversity. Of particular concern are coral reefs which are the habitat of at least a quarter of all marine species.
  • Many marine organisms (e.g., reef building corals, shellfish) that produce calcium carbonate shells or skeletons are adversely affected by the increased absorption of CO2 levels and decreasing pH in seawater. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, “The effect is similar to osteoporosis, slowing growth and making shells weaker”.
  • Reef building corals, a ‘framework species’, are one species greatly affected by coral bleaching (a result of OA). Coral reefs are being destroyed twice as fast as rainforests. This is significant considering over $6.5B and 63,000 jobs are connected with tourism of the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Abnormally low pH levels in the seawater off the West coast of the US may be attributed to “near total failures of developing oysters in both aquaculture facilities and natural ecosystems”.
  • Before people started burning coal and oil, the pH of the ocean was essentially stable for the previous 20 million years. However, science predicts that by 2100 (less than 100 years!) OA will more than double if CO2 emissions continue at their current rate.
  • The ocean is absorbing the CO2 we are spewing into the atmosphere at the rate of, “22 million tons per day“.
  • The last time the world’s oceans acidified quickly (approximately 6.8 trillion tons of carbon entered the atmosphere over a period of 10,000 years) many deep-sea species went extinct. The cause is not known, but the result was a rise in temperature at least 5-9°C.
  • Strategies needed to combat OA are similar to those that are needed to combat global warming. In fact, OA is known as global warming equally evil twin.
  • To help combat OA you should conserve energy at every opportunity. This could include using the most efficient fuels for cars, trucks, airplanes, and ships.
  • According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “OA has the potential to seriously threaten the future health of the world’s oceans and the significant economic benefits they provide to humankind”.

This illustration depicts how less emissions can combat the effects of ocean acidification.