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Vanishing Oceans Project


The Vanishing Oceans Project

by Linda Byrne and Maggie Dubris

Here is a link to the soundscape for The Vanishing Oceans Project on soundcloud.

And a link to our website for the project.

Earth is known as the blue planet; oceans cover 71% of the surface. More than half of that is deep ocean; barely explored, filled with forms of life unknown to us. In fact, 97% of the world’s inhabited living space is the deep. This is a world unseen by human eyes, filled with sixty foot squids, living fossils such as sea lilies and glass sponges, and hydrothermal vents spewing super-heated hydrogen sulfide that are believed by many scientists to be the places where life originated. 

Every level of the ocean is filled with life, and filled with the detritus of man. Cannisters of radioactive waste and chemical weapons on the ocean floor, plumes of oil floating a thousand meters below the surface, run-off from pesticides and industry, raw sewage, garbage--the list goes on and on. Six hundred and twenty marine animal species are on the IUCN Red List of threatened species (meaning, extinct, critically endangered, endangered, or threatened.) Because so many creatures are rarely seen by man, this is only the tip of the iceberg, but the list includes many species of whales, sea turtles, coral, and seahorses.

It’s not only chemicals, oil, radioactive waste, and garbage, but noise that is destroying many of the ocean mammals. Dolphins and whales are known to be extremely susceptible to human sounds, and recently noise has been pinpointed as the likely cause of the washing up of hundreds of giant squid on the coast of spain in the early 2000s. 

The Vanishing Oceans Project was formed to bring attention to the level of destruction that oceans are experiencing in our lifetimes. Moby Dick, Captains Couragous, The Old Man and the Sea, Master and Commander--all these books will seem as fantastical to our descendents as books about fairies and little hobbits are to us now. The songs of the sea, the sight of a dolphin leaping on horizon, the magic of snorkeling to see a living coral reef filled with bright fish and odd creatures, all this will be lost to them.

This multi-media installation combines Linda Byrnes’s haunting ghost ship skeletons with a coral reef sculpted of plastic o-rings; one of the major killers of ocean mammals and seabirds. Maggie Dubris’s soundscape fills the space with a montage of deep ocean sounds, whale calls, readings from Moby Dick and a letter by sea-captain’s wife Eliza Brock, and man-made sounds that now resound beneath the waves.

Much of the marine sound used in the Vanishing Oceans Project was donated by Dr. Marc O. Lammers and Pollyanna Fisher-Pool of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Without their generosity the sound element of this installation would not have been possible.




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