Chasing Coral

Or rather creating it….

This week me and my painting collaborator Renee Berthelette have been creating 21 little paintings to send out across the world, for Omni Open Studio’s an artist’s talk on zoom on September 26th at 5pm. Please see here for more details on that!

They were born out of a art exhibition at First Live in Bushwick, which started as a conversation with Emily at First Live about our mutual love of the ocean and keeping it clean to inspire and heal another generation, resulting in 8 paintings and live painting performance- painting each other.

For these paintings, we chose to cut up those jumpsuits the used to perform in and out of them a whole family of coral was born.

The splatters resembling current tousled fronds, we decided to run with it and look to actual species of coral, particularly endangered ones to shed some light where it’s needed most.

With this administration pulling out of the Paris Agreement on November 4th, we all need to pitch in, and persuade individual governments and states to take ownership over the endangered and vulnerable reefs around them and make sure we have a future on this rock.

The coral species we chose were:

Agaricidae Pachseris Rugosa (Castle Coral)

-this is particularly close to my heart as it’s native to Singapore) http://www.wildsingapore.com/wildfacts/cnidaria/coralhard/agariciidae/castle.htm

Mycetophyllia ferox ( Rough Cacti Coral )

Rhinopas Frondas

Acropora Speciosa

Orbicella faveolata (Mountinous Star Coral)

Corallium (Red Coral)

Acropora Tenella ( Red Devil Coral)

Tubastraea floreana (Floreana Coral)

Montipora Austraiensis

Parantipathos

Stylocoeniella Cocosensis

Euphyllia Paradivisa

Canttarellus

Acropora cervicornis (Staghorn Coral)

Seridtopura Aculenta

Pavona Diffluens

Acradora

Dendrogyra cylindricus (Pillar Coral)

Acropora Retusa

Lophelia

Acropora Iolcani

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s been a lovely project to research these corals and treat them as extended family members of which we are doing inspired self portraits. And they are stunning to look at!

But more than stunning to look at “[t]hey buffer shorelines from the effects of hurricanes. An estimated 500 million people earn their livelihoods from the fishing stocks and tourism opportunities reefs provide. The tiny animals that give rise to reefs are even offering hope for new drugs to treat cancer and other diseases.” *

We did a lot of reading about the corals natural ‘sunscreen’ , “[w]hen certain species of coral flash a shimmering palette of vibrant pinks, reds, blues, purples and yellows, they aren’t simply showing off. This coral is attempting to recover the algae they cannot live without, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Current Biology.”

“some species envelop themselves in bright, sometimes fluorescent colors, which mitigate intense light reflections through the coral and create conditions for the light-sensitive algae [that supports them] to return.”

“The pigments block certain wavelengths of light, making it possible for the algae to safely recolonize the coral.”**

This happens as a signal of distress, a last resort, before the coral become bleached.

Recently ( in the last 2-3 years) there has been interesting news about the coral in the Red Sea. “Th[e] population of corals [in the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba] migrated into the Red Sea system from the south where the temperature of the water is – and always was – high,” Meibom says. As you move north, the water temperature drops. Over thousands of years, some of these corals migrated north to where they now live at lower temperatures – today the Gulf of Aqaba is 27-28C.But, it seems these corals retained their capacity to live at higher temperatures. “They still remember in their biology how to live at 33C,” says Meibom. “So if you increase the temperature to 31C, for example, they’re still happy.”***

What remains is persuading the countries around the Red Sea to care about it as much as the scientific community. There has been a petition so far to the Israeli Government to halt dumping, and to UNESCO to name it a protected marine park. There is also plans to create a giant commercial project set up for eco-tourism in the area. Which we can only hope will not damage the environment it intends to preserve.

As New York Climate Week starts September 19th, we hope you’ll think of these pieces and hope to get involved in any small way.

For more info on Coral Bleaching, this is a great (and kid friendly) video from the BBC

https://www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/54100718

If you would like to do something, this petition at Change.org is a good place to start– this 11 year is petitioning the CEO of Banana Boat who’s sunscreens are toxic to the reefs.

https://www.change.org/p/we-need-to-save-the-coral-reefs-now-before-it-s-too-late

For more reading, check out

Everything Coral from http://www.coralsoftheworld.org/page/home/

https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/

http://www.reefcentral.com/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmars.2020.00090/full

https://www.oceanographicmagazine.com/news/red-sea-coral-reef/

The amazingly beautiful film Chasing Coral on Netflix

Quotes from:

*https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/06/scientists-work-to-save-coral-reefs-climate-change-marine-parks/

**May 22, 2020 – David Waldstein for NY Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/22/science/coral-color-bleaching.html

***https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200408-the-middle-eastern-corals-that-could-survive-climate-change

Additional pictures from:

http://www.reefbuilders.com

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