Tag Archives: Atlantic

The Atlantic – II

This is the second part of a three-part series of a pictorial exploration of the Atlantic Ocean as I know it, primarily on Ireland’s south and south-east coasts. As with the last time, these images are best viewed individually at a larger size. All will be added at full resolution to my Flickr account.

Atlantic Pulse

Atlantic Pulse

 

II -  Interface IMG_4757 USM rad 3.0.resized
Atlantic Assault

 

Evening with Groundswell
Evening At High Tide

 

Force Three
Force Three

 

Beach Ripple
Rippling Onto A Beach

 

Storm
Atlantic Storm

 

Anvil of Rock
Anvil of Rock

 

Force Two
Force Two
Force Ten
Force Ten

The Atlantic – I

The Atlantic Ocean is in me.

For almost 20 years since it got its hook into me, I’ve been haunting, (in a moderate non-weird way), the Irish Atlantic coast, primarily the west, south and my own Copper Coast in the south-east.

For many years, in the depths of grim nights, I have stared into the dark and summoned the ocean as a blanket. I can float on groundswell as it pulses and lifts and lowers me. Experience the ground vibrations from huge breakers. Smell the plankton. Feel the wind tighten my face. Taste the salt. The Atlantic became as much part of me as I become a miniscule part  of it.

It’s a grey ocean. Grey, not gray, my American friends. The word was surely invented for the Atlantic. Not a dull description of colour, it’s a dimension, a world, a universe, The Soulstealer Sea. The Grey Atlantic, not the Blue Pacific. It’s a metal ocean. Steel and iron, verdigris if you are lucky. Hard.  Complete.

Welcome to my ocean.

{The photographs of the Atlantic in this three-part series are the best I’ve  taken, over a two and half year period, of various representational of elements of the Atlantic. It’s a personal, creative and a continuing journey. It is as important to me as taking the photographs to let them be seen. I feel like a photographer for once. All are better on full screen for a more, well, immersive experience.}

A Wave
A Wave
Winter Horizon I
Winter Horizon I
Winter Horizon II
Winter Horizon II
Sky & Sea
Vast
I - Swell.resized
Visitors from Far Away
The Sky In The Sea
The Sky In The Sea
Squall
Squall
A Reef
A Reef
The Storm Will Pass
Storms Always Pass
Local
Local
Evening Sea With Two Islands
Evening Sea With Two Islands

 

Force Nine
Force Nine

Where would you prefer to swim?

As you bounce around the net, you’ll occasionally encounter images like that on the right. It will be presented as the ideal of clear and clean water. And if you swim in the North Atlantic, you may look at it with longing.

Or often its white sand atolls glittering in an azure blue Pacific.

Or coral reefs heaving with ecstatic Clown and Angel fish.

In these galleries you probably won’t see images like this below held up as an ideal:

Sandycove Challenge 2006 – The Washing Machine Year

But if you rate the last image as the poorest choice, you profoundly misunderstand Open Water swimming. The Sandycove Challenge in 2006 (that’s me in front there, not in front of the race by the way) was one of the those races where the best part was saying you’d been there and swam it. It had to be run inside the island because conditions were so bad, and even inside the island conditions were rotten, with swells running right up the Pil and into the slipway.

But I’ve veered from my original intent, which was to talk about marine life and light.

In those crystal clear waters, what people often fail to understand, is that the water has less life than even the over-fished and over-polluted North Atlantic. Cold water has more microscopic plankton than warm water and it is richer in species richness.

Think about those coral reefs again, with their range of different species. That’s species diversity, the rage of different types of creatures. Coral reefs and tropical rainforests have the highest species diversity on earth. Species diversity is like the world’s great savings account. It is species diversity that helps protect the biological future by having this large range of creatures that speciate (evolve) into other creatures.

But species diversity is only one side of a coin of which the other is species richness. Temperate and cold waters have the highest richness, which means the number of lifeforms in the area. It was the larder of the Atlantic that helped fuel northern population movements, exploration and expansion in the 15th to 20th centuries.

 The gulf stream, the thermohaline circulation system and the cold upwellings off the continental shelves provided huge quantities of plankton as the basis of the Atlantic food chain.

Crystal clear water is generally lifeless water. Pretty but vacant.

Murky water is rich in life. Murky water is what I prefer. It makes my swimming life part of the ecosystem.

Ballinskelligs Summer Light

And let’s not forget the light. Artists have long talked about the Mediterranean light, that particular quality of light only found in a few places like the Mediterranean and Californian coasts. But I propose that not enough of those artists visited West Cork or Kerry in summer and saw the true northern Atlantic light. Of course many have tried, the Artist’s Residence at Cill Realig is always full of artist’s attempts to capture the ever shifting play of shadows and light.

Derrynane Bay to Puffin Island – Click to enlarge

After all, once you’ve seen Ballinskelligs and Derrynane Bay, well, your soul is contaminated with Ireland.

Jen, Rottnest 2011, Mick kayaking

The Pacific is blue, the big blue.

The Atlantic is grey. And green. And black, and brown, and turquoise and mint and dark and light, both lambent and shadowed.

The Atlantic is chiaroscuro.

Sandycove Spring 2010