Because of the increasing interest worldwide in mining the deep ocean, scientific exploration of formerly inaccessible areas where desirable minerals occur has become even more critical. A primary objective of BIODIVERSE BORDERLANDS, Schmidt Ocean Institute’s cruise to study the mineral-rich continental shelf adjacent to Southern California, was to locate and sample phosphorite and ferromanganese, minerals which form on steep deep ocean slopes. This painting shows a map highlighting elevation, which was created by Falkor’s advanced bathymetric technology for our first dive of the cruise to Hancock Ridge. Similar to the way an ultrasound works, this technology sends multi-beam sonar sound pulses over a swath of the seabed which then return to the ship. Each depth has an associated color: purple is flattest and red is steepest.
Gouache on Stonehenge paper, 8 x 10″, 2021
This ethereal invertebrate moves through the layers of the world’s oceans by using its cilia to swim. Although it is commonly known as Comb Jelly, it is actually not related to jellyfish. Approximately 200 species of Ctenophore have been identified, but a new research methodology called Environmental DNA Sampling may permit the identification of as many as 800 of these fragile organisms.
Most are bioluminescent, often translucent, shimmering or iridescent.
This beautiful Ctenophore appears as a starry galaxy floating in a vast space. We observed it via FALKOR’S SuBastian ROV at San Juan Sea Mount, depth of 1450 meters (4757 feet, nearly one mile.)
Gouache on Arches paper, 8 x 10″, 2021
The genus Poralia contains as yet only a single species, Poralia rufescens. It lives in the pelagic zone of the deep ocean. In this case, it was seen during SuBastian’s descent to San Juan Sea Mount (1450 meters.) Poralia rufescens has around 30 tentacles and a 9 cm bell; it moves by pulsing its body. The distinctive glowing plummy-orange color of this species (which, along with its translucency is what drew me to paint it) helps camouflage it from predators, because red light disappears with depth. At the deeper layers of the water column, the elusive jellyfish seems to vanish from view.
Gouache on Stonehenge paper, 9 x 12″, 2021