The Real Map of Ireland depicts Ireland’s marine territory of some 900,000 km2. Ten times the size of the island of Ireland, it’s barely known yet already overfished. The largest industrial scale Kelp Extraction Licence ever issued in Irish or British waters may soon yield animal-care products and nutraceuticals. Is Kelp deforestation of Bantry Bay akin to rainforest destruction elsewhere?
I grew up by the sea. I spent a lot of my formative years on it. I was rarely in it, almost never below the surface. I was confined to coastal marine activities, rarely approaching the shore-viewed horizon. Rowing, sailing, fishing, crabbing, swimming and skimming stones were some of my childhood passions. Birdwatching and photography developed later.
I spent many professional years on ships exploring the world’s ocean depths. I worked with teams of mariners and geoscientists. We recorded echoes which were summed and developed with computers. This produced transects with which to see, interpret, map and exploit rock formations below the sea floor.
From such ships I have seen majestic blue whales, ghostly bioluminescence and industrial tuna and squid fishing fleets; each is hard to forget. Snorkelling among tropical reefs gave me an idea of what else could be down there.
Since I know so little of the hidden world below the surface, even at the water’s edge, I went there to fish for photographs. I put a bicycle helmet camera into a waterproof box, tethered it to my arm and cast it into the lapping seawater. I set the camera to take pictures continuously, freeing me to lure interesting scenes. I constantly adjusted the tether against the rush, ebb and swirl of the briny sea. Many of the images are out of focus despite a shutter speed of 1/3800th of a second; the camera had jiggled frantically in the perpetual motion of our restless seas.
It interests me that so many people seek peace and calm through exposure to such dangerously energetic coastal environments. Most folk seem blind to the power of water. The majority overlook shipwrecks. Few realise how many refugees, often in their first encounter with the sea, must risk its deadly caprices when they cross.
We ignore the many threats of rising sea levels at our peril.
Centrefold: ‘Transience: Drowning Panic’ © Simon Robinson 2023
Selected for ArtNetDLR ‘Transience’ group exhibition. On show August-September 2023. HD Metal Photographic Print (71 X 40 cm)
European policies are drowning refugees. This may be the last thing many disenfranchised people see.
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