My Art on Ocean Acidification by Ray Dahlstrom

Our Carbon Footprint

Since coming to the Bass Coast 12 years ago I have used art as a means to develop awareness of the increased amount of CO2 in our oceans. As water acidifies by absorbing carbon dioxide, organisms with carbonate shells and skeletons are threatened. When carbon dioxide levels are high enough, the structure will break down, leaving only invertebrates, which then proliferate.

Many jellyfish (medusazoa), are present in my current paintings, as for me, jellyfish symbolise what will be left of marine life if we continue to burn fossil fuels at current rates. The ocean will not only heat up, but the ecology of marine life will change forever. Ocean heating and acidification are already causing many problems for marine life, for example, dramatic change is apparent in the Antarctic, where the warming waters release carbon dioxide causing shelled creatures to dissolve in the corrosive conditions. This affects food sources for fish, birds, and marine mammals. The science is clear and the arts need to support the science.

I have created a ‘tongue in cheek’ t-shirt series with the text, ‘CO2 – Jellyfish and Chips’ (for more on this see here and here. Ed.). When it first became available it was seen by many as a very obscure message, but in recent times, it is becoming more understood. If we continue to change the structure of the ocean, the Friday night take-away won’t be fish and chips, but something a little different. Recently I have read an article that states that cooked jellyfish doesn’t taste too bad, but I don’t know whether I am ready to try it. Hopefully, if we change our lifestyles and attitude to fossil fuels, I won’t need to, and can start working on some other themes.

*the Author is an Inverloch artist who has worked on a number of climate related themes including Black Saturday, Our Carbon Footprint and January 2020.