The Ocean Organ is a visual representation of ocean acidification, which occurs when carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves in the oceans, forming a weak acid. This collaboration brought artist and marine biologist Dr Kate Crawfurd together with Professor Jason Hall-Spencer to communicate the issue in a novel way.
Since the industrial revolution, the ocean has become approximately 30% more acidic due to fossil fuel emissions. Ocean acidification particularly affects sea creatures that create shells from calcium carbonate, such as sea urchins, coral, shellfish, and some plankton. It is vital that we reduce carbon emissions to prevent irreversible changes to the Earth’s systems. The Ocean Organ visualises the pH scale (level of acidity) of seawater using red cabbage as a pH indicator dye.
“What we are trying to do through the Ocean Organ is to communicate science in quite a playful and positive way. We felt scale was important and the audience should be immersed in the experience. There is no doubt the message can be quite heavy in terms of the effect our actions are having on the environment. But in order to inspire change, we need to engage people of all ages and make them not only appreciate the scale of the problem but that they can also be part of the solution,” Kate said.