Each year, more than 11 billion tons of stuff gets carried around the world by large ships. Clothes, flat-screen TVs, grain, cars, oil — transporting these goods from port to port is what makes the global economy go 'round. Now there's a great way to visualize this entire process, through this stunning interactive map from the UCL Energy Institute.

The ocean remains a glaring blind spot in the Western imagination. Catastrophic events remind us of its influence—a lost airplane, a shark attack, an oil spill, an underwater earthquake—but we tend to marginalize or misunderstand the scales of the oceanic. It represents the “other 71 percent” of our planet. Meanwhile, like land, its surface and space continue to be radically instrumentalized: offshore zones territorialized by nation-states, high seas crisscrossed by shipping routes, estuaries metabolized by effluents, sea levels sensed by satellites, seabeds lined with submarines and plumbed for resources. As sewer, conveyor, battlefield, or mine, the ocean is a vast logistical landscape. Whether we speak of fishing zones or fish migration, coastal resilience or tropical storms, the ocean is both a frame for regulatory controls and a field of uncontrollable, indivisible processes. To characterize the ocean as catastrophic—imperiled environment, coastal risk, or contested territory—is to overlook its potential power.

Pacific Aquarium responds to the pressing concerns of ecology and economy in the Pacific Ocean in a series of 9 projects. Each project constructs a section of a world in which the externalities of resource exploitation and climate change are weaved into spatial scales, temporalities, and species beyond the human.

Before satellite tagging technology became feasible, it was thought that great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias), spent most of their time close to the coasts feeding on seals and sea lions. With the advent of satellite tagging technology, many new behaviors of the great white shark have been discovered. By tagging a shark with a satellite transmitter, scientists are able to track the movement of the shark for extended periods

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According to afrofuturist legend, Drexciya is a sunken land inhabited by the children of African women drowned during the Middle Passage. Since they were never born, these children continued to breathe underwater: first through amniotic fluid, then through lungs better suited to their aquatic world.

British scientists have found a remarkable array of creatures, some of them new to science, in one of the most inhospitable regions of the deep sea. In the first ever expedition to explore and take samples from the "Dragon Vent" in the south-west Indian Ocean, remotely operated submarines spotted yeti crabs, sea cucumbers and snails living around the boiling column of mineral-rich water that spews out of the seafloor.

On Campbell Island in the Southern Ocean, some 400 miles south of New Zealand, is a single Sitka spruce. More than 170 miles from any other tree, it is often credited as the “world’s loneliest tree”. Planted in the early 20th century by Lord Ranfurly, governor of New Zealand, the tree’s wood has recorded the radiocarbon produced by above ground atomic bomb tests – and its annual layers show a peak in 1965, just after the tests were banned. The tree therefore gives us a potential marker for the start of the Anthropocene.

Build your own squid - fat, thin or funky. Play with it then set it free.

Find your squid again here.

If it is the job of a phenomenologist to describe conscious experience, Bodies of Water: Posthuman Feminist Phenomenology does so in a way that collapses the distinction between one’s psychic life and one’s material situation. Its author, Astrida Neimanis, challenges us to reimagine how individual human bodies — constituted of approximately 70 per cent water — are thoroughly implicated in the planetary hydrocommons.

Passage (2017) by Mohau Modisakeng, is a three-channel projection that meditates on slavery’s dismemberment of African identity and its enduring erasure of personal histories.

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Mbwana and his best friend Juma are two young men with big dreams. These dreams become reality when they photograph a gigantic fish leaping out of the sea and their small town blossoms into a tourist hot-spot as a result. But for Mbwana, the reality isn't what he dreamed – and when he meets the fish again, both of them forgotten, ruined and old, he decides only one of them can survive. Jonah is a big fish story about the old and the new, and the links and the distances between them. A visual feast, shot though with humour and warmth, it tells an old story in a completely new way.

Meghan Judge's site-specific projected animation for the Porwli festival in Port Louis, Mauritius. It was video mapped onto the old Military Hospital in the city so as to highlight heritage architectural spaces that are largely neglected. The festival aimed to breath new life into the site with the theme 'nature' and within the site the Electrocaine collective also installed two projects (left door/right door on the lower floor).

Reflective short film about heritage and preservation of indigenous life in South Africa. Dumama, Qhawekazi and Shakeel share a snippet of their story.

Ellen Gallagher brings together imagery from myth, nature, art and social history to create complex works in a wide variety of media including painting, drawing, relief, collage, print, sculpture, film and animation. The exhibition explores the themes which have emerged and recurred in her practice, from her seminal early canvases through to recent film installations and new bodies of work.

The Forensic Oceanography project was launched in summer 2011 to support a coalition of NGOs demanding accountability for the deaths of migrants in the central Mediterranean Sea while that region was being tightly monitored by the NATO-led coalition intervening in Libya. The efforts were focused on what is now known as the “left-to-die boat” case, in which sixty-three migrants lost their lives while drifting for fourteen days within the NATO maritime surveillance area.

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This is an experiment in archive creation, where we sample the range of creative and critical work on this subject, that we hope will provide materials to prompt further questions. Like a cabinet of curiosities, we aim to feature interesting samples; like an aquarium, however, we embrace a more random and fluid approach than the colonial categories of the cabinet. Think of it as flotsam and jetsam of cultural production on the oceans from the relatively underrepresented parts of the world.


The process of curation, or sampling, is relatively free form. The only criteria are that it be related to the ocean (coastlines, submarine worlds, ports, maritime networks, ships, fish, bathymetry and so on); to the global south (the poorer parts of the world, the third world, the developing world, but also the southern hemisphere more loosely defined); and ideally also to the arts and humanities (literature, art, history, theatre, film, design, stories or science that engages the imagination in some way). 


Browse the curiosities as they swim, drift, float and flow past. And also send us your contributions! All we need is a link/image/text, and a single line or quote which indicates why this sparked your interest.