Our Carbonic Ocean


Inverloch artist Ray Dahlstrom has been painting a number of different climate related series for many years and I have written on his work previously. In particular he has done a ‘48.4 degrees’ series (where birds drop dead and fall out of the skies) a ‘Black Saturday’ series (Ray was burnt out in this fire) a ‘carbon footprint’ series and most recently an ‘acid ocean’ series, part of which was called “Jellyfish & Chips” when exhibited in Prahran.

The last two series have been combined in a recent work (above) which was assisted by community members as part of Creative Gippsland’s “Come and Play all of May” Festival and has been recently featured in an article in a Sentinel Times article “When Science and Art Collide”. The canvas combines the (carbon) footprints of local volunteers superimposed on one of Ray’s ‘acid ocean’ backgrounds, emphasizing the role of carbon dioxide in turning the oceans acidic, and illustrating how this major change, if unchecked, may destroy many ocean life forms and enhance others.

The oceans are part of the ‘carbon cycle’ absorbing some, but not all, of the extra carbon dioxide being produced by our burning of fossil fuels. The earth is also warming with the extra CO2 in the atmosphere as the oceans are becoming more acidic with the extra carbon they absorb. They are closely related ‘cousins’. The oceans then are experiencing a ‘double whammy’ – from warming waters, such as has recently caused the coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, and the acidification.

Ray noted: “I love living near the ocean but I am very worried about what humans are doing to it” and noted that the acidifying ocean was “tragic for all sea animals with shells or bones…” Many of his works can be viewed here.