Where We Go From Here

the journal of Rocketday Arts, issue 3 | ISSN 1920–9452
Mairi Best of Neptune Canada

Mairi Best at the NEPTUNE Canada launch, photo by Rocketday

“Some suggest we are going to end up with what are called slime oceans, which are basically dominated by jelly fish, sponges and bacterial mats.”

Understanding the Deep Sea

For most of us, our sea experiences end at the shore or on the surface of the ocean. But this is the world’s greatest unexplored, unstudied region, and ocean scientists from around the world are now conducting research with the world’s largest seafloor observatory, located here in the Pacific northwest. NEPTUNE Canada uses current technology and instruments to collect video footage and continuous data from the ocean floor, while scientists monitor this marine environment remotely from their world–wide offices. Rocketday worked with the NEPTUNE Canada team to create the visual design of the project’s website. We caught up with ocean scientist and associate director of the NEPTUNE Canada project, Dr. Mairi Best, shortly after its public launch.

What led you to study the ocean?

I was six months old when my grandmother would take me down to the beaches in Scotland. By the time I was four, I was nicknamed ‘Mairi Fish’ because they couldn’t keep me out of the water! As long as I can remember I’ve been totally fascinated by the ocean. I had some good advice when I was young, to follow the things that I was really passionate about. The oceans were very much front and centre in that, the natural world in general, traveling and languages. That whole combination ended up being a career in ocean science where I have been able to travel the world and study the sea.

Why is it important for us to better understand the ocean?

NEPTUNE Canada
visual identity & branding
web visual design
PPT presentation template

Oceans make up 75% of the surface of the earth, but it’s important to understand that oceans make up 95% of living space on this planet. Of course it’s many interconnected ecosystems, and the more we look in the oceans we learn that it’s a very complex place that changes quite significantly from one place to another. We tend to treat the ocean as one big bathtub — it’s not.

I think that it’s important for us to develop an intuition about this environment, because it really is the engine of the planet. Moving our elemental cycles around, moving our heat budget and driving our atmosphere. A lot of the biogeochemical cycles are inherently drivers that effect us on land as well, and we need to know how societies’ actions might be interfering with those processes.

NEPTUNE collects a wide variety of data. What is NEPTUNE’s involvement in earthquake research?

The seismometers that we’ve installed on NEPTUNE Canada are really key because there is not much information from the ocean floor. On the west coast of North America earthquakes come when you’ve got one plate running into and going under another plate, called a subduction zone. Being able to have seismometers on both sides of that collision helps us look at what is it actually doing — where are the forces, and how they change before an earthquake. It’s still going to be tricky, but it might give us a better sense of when higher alert times are.

How is the ocean vulnerable to human activity?

We can effect the whole ocean in different ways. If we’re changing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, the ocean at the surface equilibrates with the atmosphere. Also, density of sea life happens in coastal areas and in the surface of the oceans, because that is where the energy and nutrients are to drive photosynthesis for the microscopic plants that feeds everything else — the base of the food chain. If we change the amount of nutrients coming in from the land, we can change that balance. And of course greater effluence and runoff from agricultural areas or deforested areas increases how much sediment is being washed into the ocean.

How much we extract from the ocean can have a big impact. We’ve been fishing down the food chain — taking out some of the top predators, then we fish out the medium–sized fish and the ecosystem gets upset. It’s not just that we’ve eaten up all the cod, it’s that the cod may have played a role and changed that whole ecosystem. Some suggest that we are going to end up with what are called slime oceans, which is basically dominated by jelly fish, sponges and bacterial mats.

How will an increased understanding of the deep ocean effect future generations?

It will help us make better decisions about how we live on this planet, in particular how we interact with the oceans. It will help us better understand what resources are possible from the oceans and how to actually look at the ocean from a farming perspective. We essentially behave as hunter–gathers and we need to look carefully at the ocean, so we can sustainably extract food. Something like NEPTUNE Canada gives an ability to be there all the time and build up that intuition about how the oceans work in a way that we can’t easily do otherwise.

at the NEPTUNE Canada launch

Scientists Kim Juniper, Sally Leys and Garry Rogers at the NEPTUNE Canada launch, photo by Rocketday

A Ferry Tale

It was Christmas Day 2009 and the boat was almost empty. Most folks had probably already opened presents and were gathered with their families, the giddy squeals of the youngsters drifting up through the opened dining room window as the adults sat back, nursing full bellies on a bright, still, winters afternoon. But we were traveling aboard the Queen of Cumberland to a cabin on Galiano Island, and that day, it felt like we were gliding across a mirror, inside a sundial.

by Rocketday’s Laura Gamble and Brad Hawkins

“What is your favourite ocean memory?”
We ask our clients.

“My most memorable times have been spent on the ocean… the frozen ocean that is. Antarctica is a mystical place, home to ice that is in every shape and shade of blue you could imagine.

Jaclyn McPhadden from the BC Marine Conservation Analysis project

“Standing on the bridge of CSS Hudson, a 300ft DFO research vessel, watching hurricane-churned waves pound relentlessly over the bow.”

Tanya Bryan from the BC Marine Conservation Analysis project

“Walking along Wickaninnish Beach in a howling gale, feeling the sting of the salt spray on my cheeks and forehead, sucking in the tangy air, and picking up glass floats along the high tide line. ”

Rick Searle from NEPTUNE Canada / Ocean Networks Canada

“I’ve spent time by the ocean in many different parts of the world. What stays with me from every place is how it feels to be near it… the fresh sea smell that you get just before you see water, sounds of surf, the feel of salt in the air and how it gets into your hair and your skin — so that even when you’ve left you still feel like you’re by the sea.

Hilary Ibey from the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area
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Out of the Black

“We love technology and we love tuna and we just want to keep eating it.”

Trepidation, intrigue or love. Matt Campbell’s dark but strangely endearing exhibition Out of the Black elicits all of the above. As Matt puts it, “this work embodies the state of mankind today and our imprint on the planet. We invade the habitats of other life forms and take them over and drive them out. We know it’s bad but we can’t stop — because we love all the cool shiny new stuff we make.”

For those who can’t make it to NYC to experience the artworks firsthand, there’s a website brought to life by Rocketday. By fusing together multiple technologies, we developed an online experience that allows you to browse the artworks and comment on your favourite pieces as you go. Check it out — you might even find yourself a new friend!

Beach (snapshots by Rocketday)

The Rocketday studio is a short walk from the beaches of the Pacific Ocean. Whether it’s from the studio, or during our travels, the beach is a place we can rest our minds and recharge at the rhythm of the waves. Recommended as part of a graphic designer’s routine.

snapshot by Emrys, low-res cell phone in Victoria, BC

snapshot by Josh, Nikon D90 SLR in Victoria, BC

snapshot by Jocelyn, Nikon D200 SLR in Puerto Escondito, Mexico

snapshot by Jen, Canon PowerShot SD960 in Koh Phi Phi, Thailand

snapshot by Adam, Nikon D70s SLR in Victoria, BC

snapshot by Laura, Nikon D50 SLR in East Cape, New Zealand