Copepod Flag at Rockefeller Center, part of “Only One Earth Project” sponsored by the Climate Museum and the UN Environment Program; artwork developed with the Menden-Deuer lab at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography.
Our environment includes unseen microscopic life that sustains us in producing vital oxygen and nourishment at the bottom of the food chain. Rockefeller Center, in the center of urban life and an attraction for visitors from around the world, is a wonderful location for raising awareness about the often overlooked but essential plankton that are part of the complex balance of life forms that our world relies on.
The image as submitted for the project is a combination of multiple elements.
The central object is a small crustacean, called a copepod, which along with the other microscopic plankton species, provides an unique overview of the invisible actors at the basis of the oceanic food web.
Also included in the composited image are algae, including dinoflagellates and small diatoms. Although some other marine particles are incorporated into the final image, the colors and other textures and abstract forms are not all from the ocean, and are added to give the sensation of the complexity of the oceanic environment.
The portrait of the copepod on the flag is derived from a series of images captured by an open-source plankton imager built by University of Rhode Island undergraduate student Jason Schaedler, working closely with post-doctoral researcher Pierre Marrec, with input from members of the Menden-Deuer lab at the Graduate School of Oceanography at URI.
Jason used the imager onboard the research vessel Endeavor during a NorthEast US Shelf Long-Term Ecological Research (NES-LTER) cruise (EN668) in summer 2021. The images were obtained from plankton net deployments.
installation views at Rockefeller Center, April 2022