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South Korea’s first woman underwater photographer has documented the dwindling community of Korean women who freedive for sea food well into their seventies.

A Global Flood Map which uses NASA satellite data to show the areas of the world which will be under water and at risk for flooding if ocean levels rise.

The project, which first launched in 2015, sees city centers submerged in a virtual flood of undulating blue waves to raise public awareness about rising sea levels.

Underwater archaeologist Ibrahima Thiaw scours the seabed off Senegal's Atlantic coast for wrecks of former slave ships.

A project and exhibition that looks at the imported palm tree as a vector for producing narratives and imaginaries within colonial and postcolonial Johannesburg.

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 through with humour and warmth, it tells an old story in a completely new way.

South African digital artist 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 breathe new life into the site with the theme 'nature' and the artist worked with local botanists to find flora specific to the island for the visuals.

Reflective short film about heritage and preservation of indigenous life in South Africa, through the experience of Qhawekazi Giyose and Gugulethu Duma, who make up the traditional Xhosa musical duo Found at Sea.

Rhodes professor Dan Wylie's blog post reflecting on the experience and the literature of swimming in South African seas. 

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Zulu shaman Credo Mutwa on the origins of the African gods: No matter where you go in Africa, no matter how deep into the interior of the dark continent you tread, you will find very ancient stories which are incredibly similar. You will find African tribes and races who will tell you that they are descendants from gods who came out of the skies thousands of years ago. Some however say that theses gods came to them from the sea in magical boats made out of reeds or wood or copper or even gold.

Yet every time our skin goes under
It’s as if the reeds remember that they were once chains
And the water, restless, wishes it could spew all of the slaves and ships onto shore
Whole as they had boarded, sailed and sunk
Their tears are what have turned the ocean salty,
This is why our irises burn every time we go under.

By South African History Online: Antipolis to Trojan

African sci-fi screening series 'The Future Weird' go underwater in search of the 'Black Atlantis', also known as Drexciya. 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.

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. It is the “world’s loneliest tree,” which gives us a potential marker for the start of the Anthropocene.

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Bill Viola’s Ocean Without a Shore, Venice Biennale (2007), which takes its title from the Andalucian Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi (1165–1240), is about the threshold between life and death or, as the artist has commented: ‘the presence of the dead in our lives’. 

Located on the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway, Acoustic Ocean sets out to explore the sonic ecology of marine life. The scientist as an explorer and important mediator of the contemporary understanding of our planetary ecosystems is a central figure in this video. She makes her appearance in the person of a Sami (indigenous of northern Scandinavia) biologist-diver who is using all sorts of hydrophones, parabolic mics and recording devices. Her task is to sense the submarine space for acoustic and other biological forms of expression. Sonic manifestations are vital modes of communication, navigation and survival for a great majority of deep-sea beings. Given the poor visibility in the deep sea, the sonic dimension is the primary means of communication, navigation and survival in this penumbral liquid universe.

The New York Times shows how the internet consists of tiny bits of code that move around the world, traveling along wires as thin as a strand of hair strung across the ocean floor. The data zips from New York to Sydney, from Hong Kong to London, in the time it takes you to read this word.

Writing in e-flux Journal #90 (April 2018), Aileen Moreton-Robinson argues that the production of the beach as a white possession is both fantasy and reality within the Australian imagination and is tied to a beach culture encompassing pleasure, leisure, and national pride that developed during modernity through the embodied performance of white masculinity. 

Sea Change takes you on an evocative journey into the secret life of an almost unknown ecosystem: the beautiful kelp forest of Southern Africa

Produced by the Australian Natonal Film Board, The Pearlers (1949) looks at pearling in the late 1940s. It goes on board the boats that work off the coast of Broome, Western Australia, from March to December each year. The film captures the atmosphere, the detail and the danger involved in the search for shell as the divers in huge metal helmets and layers of clothing under their suits dive two at a time, each with one person tending their airhose and another their lifeline.

Architecture firm BIG designs Oceanix City, with Oceanix – a company that develops innovate ways to build on water, working with MIT's Center for Ocean Engineering. The city is made up of buoyant islands clustered together in groups of six to form villages. These clusters would then be repeated in multiples of six to form a 12-hectare village for 1 650 residents, and then again to form an archipelago home to 10 000 citizens.

Legends speculate that around 600 shipwrecks dot Goa's seabed. According to Centro Nacional de Arqueologia Nautica e Subaquatica (CNANS), Lisbon, several Portuguese ships capsized off the Indian coast between 1497 and 1612. Most of them capsized in the waters off Goa due to storms, hidden reefs and sandbars.

By South African duo Batuk, made up of Spoek Mathambo and Manteiga. The music video for 'Deep Ocean Deep' is an ethereal mermaid fantasy, referencing Xhosa figure Mamlambo, who lives in the deep sea.

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Welcome to the Aquarium of Curiosities!


This is a growing collection of cultural material on the ocean from or about the global South. Feel free to browse the curiosities as they swim, drift, float and flow past. 

The Aquarium of Curiosities is an experiment in archive creation, sampling the range of creative and critical work on southern seas, and establishing a basis for further research. Like a cabinet of curiosities, it aims to feature interesting examples. However, like an aquarium, it is organised in ways that are more random and fluid than the colonial categories of the cabinet. Think of it as flotsam of cultural production on the oceans from the relatively underrepresented parts of the world.


The process of curation is relatively free form. The only criteria are that the curiosity is related to the ocean (coastlines, submarine worlds, ports, maritime networks, ships, fish, 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). 



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