According to scientists, the sound you hear when you place a seashell next to your ear is not the sound of the ocean. It is the ambient noise from the immediate surroundings which is amplified in the cavity of the shell. No matter, listening to the sound is a delightful experience for many. It has even inspired some poets…
On the 11th of May, I issued an open invitation to photographers to share their best phictures on the theme The Wonder of Water. Only three people, unfortunately, responded to the call. The good news is that they all sent in excellent photos.
I am inviting all and sundry to submit their best photos for an upcoming Marine Café Blog feature about of water. It is my hope that the selected pictures will remind everyone of the immense importance of this natural resource to a world threatened by global warming.
The torrid temperatures this April reminded me of a 1920 poem by Robert Frost titled ‘Fire and Ice’. Using the contrasting images of fire and ice, the beloved American poet muses on how the world will end. He speaks of the cataclysmic event in a colloquial tone, which makes the poem somehow more chilling.
It may not be dramatic like J.M.W. Turner’s famous Fighting Temeraire, but ‘Meditation by the Sea’ is my favourite marine painting. As a writer and observer of the shipping world, I can identify with this work. I even see myself in it.
On sweltering days, humans are instinctively drawn to water. The mere sight of it evokes a feeling of delight and even joy. The following vintage photos may not bring surcease to those suffering from the current heat wave that is gripping many countries. Nonetheless, they should be refreshing to the eyes, if not to the spirit.
The world owes a debt of gratitude to James Francis “Frank” Hurley. The Australian photographer and adventurer took part in a number of expeditions to Antarctica, documenting with his camera a place that most of humanity will never get to see or set foot on.
A harbour is often thought of as a place bustling with maritime commerce. The Britannica definition of the term reminds us of its primary function: “any part of a body of water and the manmade structures surrounding it that sufficiently shelters a vessel from wind, waves, and currents, enabling safe anchorage or the discharge and loading of cargo and passengers.”
The spirit of serenity, which Zen Buddhism seeks to cultivate, is a key aspect of Japan’s tea ceremony as it is of traditional Japanese art. In his iconic The Book of Tea, art critic Okakura Kakuzo drew a connection between the world of art and the world of tea :
“The tea-masters held that real appreciation of art is only possible to those who make of it a living influence. Thus they sought to regulate their daily life by the high standard of refinement which obtained in the tea-room. In all circumstances serenity of mind should be maintained, and conversation should be conducted as never to mar the harmony of the surroundings.”
Who would go to the beach when the weather is cold, damp and dreary? People go there to bask in the glory of the sun. Yet, there is something special — even beautiful — about a beach on a sunless day. Far from the motley crowd of sunbathers and alone near the mist-covered sea, one may come to realise the complex and perplexing nature, not only of the sea, but of life itself.
Why listen to the slogans blaring out of the IMO and its global maritime chorus? These incessant tributes to seafarers are not music to the ears. They are hackneyed and shopworn. They don’t mean a thing. It is more pleasant to hear the wonderful beat of commerce on the waterfront and the enchanting sounds of the sea and seagulls.
On 9th August, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a press release ominously headlined ‘Climate change widespread, rapid, and intensifying’. The IPCC statement painted a grim picture of what would happen in the likely event that global temperature reaches 1.5 degrees Celsius: rising sea level, unprecedented extreme weather conditions, drought, wildfires, etc. Interestingly, some artworks created more than a century ago — long before there was talk of CO2 emissions and global warming — provide a foretaste of what is happening today and what could happen in future in terms of climate change. It is as though the Past were mirroring the Future.