Entertainment Australian painter Ellie Hannon artist-at-sea on Schmidt Ocean Institute Ashmore Reef voyage

07:50  07 may  2021
07:50  07 may  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Artist - at - Sea Program. Employment. Australian Mesophotic Coral Examination. Connection with Nature – Video Update. Go behind the scenes with #ArtistAtSea Ellie Hannon as she describes her experience working with #TwilightCoral scientists while on Research Vessel Falkor. Uncovering the Secrets of Ashmore Reef . April 14, 2021. Shining a Light on Mesophotic Coral – Video Update.

Group photo of the science party and Artist - at - Sea Ellie Hannon at Darwin Port, Northern Territory, Australia .Conor Ashleigh/SOI. Collaborating to explore our reefs … Mesophotic means middle light—so the reefs we will be studying are those that extend from 40 m depth to around 100 m depth, which is about the maximum depth that sunlight penetrates through the clear waters of the ocean . Ashmore Reef is an Australian Marine Park—so every piece of information we collect on this trip will be invaluable to help understand what is unique about the reef , and to inform management of the park

Artist Ellie Hannon says she was overwhelmed with inspiration during the voyage. (Supplied: Schmidt Ocean Institute) © Provided by ABC NEWS Artist Ellie Hannon says she was overwhelmed with inspiration during the voyage. (Supplied: Schmidt Ocean Institute)

A Newcastle artist has been given a rare opportunity to capture one of Australia's most remote marine sanctuaries as part of a scientific expedition off the coast of Western Australia.

Painter Ellie Hannon was chosen to be the artist-at-sea on an 18-day voyage to Ashmore Reef, 600 kilometres north of Broome.

The project, led by the US-based Schmidt Ocean Institute and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, was able to comprehensively document deep water coral and several rare marine animal species for the first time.

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Ashmore Reef Marine Park is home to unique coral ecosystems: Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems (MCEs). While the waters of Australia are famous for shallower coral systems such as the Great Barrier Reef , MCEs there (and around the globe) remain largely unknown and undocumented. At Ashmore Reef Marine Park, the team will use underwater robotics and novel imaging technology to capture high definition video across each shoal. The team will create a streamlined system to collect, process, and analyze the imagery using R/V Falkor’s High Performance Computing (HPC) systems to vastly

Schmidt Ocean Institute works to advance the frontiers of global marine research by providing state of the art operational, technological, and informational support to the pioneering ocean science and technology development projects at sea . Explore recent news and updates from around the institute and at sea .

Ms Hannon joined a diverse crew of researchers on board the RV Falkor, the Schmidt Institute's research vessel.

Her 12-hour days started at first light, alongside scientists who were undertaking dives and collecting specimens from the rich ocean habitat.

With "no idea what to expect", she followed them into the vibrant coral fields.

"It ended up being this pink and red burst of colour. That was definitely the stand-out moment," she said.

Ms Hannon saw giant sponges, feathery sea pens and sea stars.

"There were so many creatures that I found out about that I never knew existed," she said.

The Ashmore Reef Marine Park is home to one of the most diverse coral ecosystems in Australia, supporting hundreds of species, including sea snakes, dugong and migratory birds.

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Artist - at - Sea Ellie Hannon works on one of her paintings on the Aft Deck as the sun sinks into the Timor Sea around Ashmore Reef .Conor Ashleigh/SOI. The Ashmore Reef study is the final Australia expedition for Schmidt Ocean Institute ’s R/V Falkor after nine unique projects as part of a 16-month initiative. “This expedition was filled with a wealth of discoveries and a fitting final voyage to end our collaboration with the local and international scientific community, exploring the waters around Australia , a continent with rich biodiversity and iconic underwater features,” said Dr. Jyotika Virmani

Artist - at - Sea Program. Australian Mesophotic Coral Examination. Collecting Coral and Creatures on Ashmore Reef This week we are talking to @jcu s Dr Rob Beaman about the #VisioningCoralSea voyage with @SchmidtOcean Institute and what is being discovered on our #GBR @abbilscott

'Incredible discoveries'

It was a groundbreaking journey, according to the institute's communications director Carlie Wiener, with scientists rediscovering a sea snake that was thought to be locally extinct.

"We were able to see some incredible discoveries ... there were lots of exciting moments," Dr Wiener said.

They also spotted several great spotted cowries for the first time in the area.

By using an underwater robot, researchers were able to view deep water corals in unprecedented detail, which they live streamed to the public.

About 500 specimens were collected for use in further research.

Creative solutions

Ms Hannon said she was overwhelmed with inspiration from the unusual creatures.

"As soon as I went down there, I was like, 'My imagination would never live up to the crazy beauty that's already existing down here. I could never come up with this stuff,'" she said.

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Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit operating foundation established in March 2009 by Eric Schmidt and Wendy Schmidt . The Institute 's goal is to advance innovative oceanographic research and discovery through technological advancement, collaborative research

The Schmidt Ocean Institute made their groundbreaking discovery earlier this week when they found the natural structure in the Great Barrier Reef . This newly discovered detached reef adds to the seven other tall detached reefs in the area, mapped since the late 1800s, including the reef at Raine Island—the world’s most important green sea turtle nesting area. “This unexpected discovery affirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our Ocean ,” said Wendy Schmidt , co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute .

There were also practical difficulties of making fine art on a ship perpetually bobbing in the ocean.

"I do a lot of long brush strokes, and I had to wait for the boat to be moving in the right direction so that I could carry this brushstroke along," she said.

She also had to ensure her materials were easily stored and environmentally safe.

An evolving tradition

Ms Hannon joined a long tradition of artists accompanying scientists on expeditions into the natural environment.

Their original purpose was to document life for those back home, but with the advent of technology, artists now hold a more interpretive role.

"I didn't want to just recreate what was in a photo," Ms Hannon said.

"[I thought] how can I work with the technology and scientists to create a story."

Dr Wiener said Ms Hannon was one of five Australian artists to undertake the institute's artist-at-sea program.

"We see artists and scientists as important storytellers that can help people engage with the ocean in a new way," she said.

Ms Hannon hopes her works from the trip will capture the experience of working on a research vessel and show "why they exist and why they're important".

Her paintings will be exhibited alongside other Australian artists from Schmidt Ocean Institute expeditions in 2022 at the Australian National Maritime Museum.

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