Invading Familiars and Strangers

Etching and Linocut Chine-Collé, 56 x 28 cm, 2022

The environmental threat to coral reefs is a personal issue, as I spent my childhood in the 1970’s on the Caribbean Island of Curaçao scuba diving and snorkeling. Reconnecting with the island twenty years later, I found the state of coral reefs severely diminished.

Besides overfishing, pollution and climate change, invading species have had negative impact. Most spectacular is the introduced lionfish (Pterois volitans). Originally from the Pacific, it has been released from aquariums and is a flourishing, voracious, and devastating newcomer.

The sargassum seaweed (Sargassum natans) is endemic to the Caribbean, but fed by fertilizer runoff, it grows out of control and suffocates life around island coasts. Ballast water of ships introduce visible and invisible newcomers, such as bacteria. An infection, stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) is suspected to be caused by one those organisms, devastating already stressed-out coral species.

This print was created for the Altered Environments portfolio curated by April Flanders for the International Conference on Marine Bioinvasions in 2023.

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