Ocean views: The lure of the marine world explored in images


The marine world has long inspired writers, poets, photographers and artists alike. Now, a new book called Ocean: Exploring the Marine World (£44.95, Phaidon Press) brings together a diverse collection of work from the past 3,000 years.

The book features fantastical prints of sea creatures, vintage movie posters, paintings and sculptures from classic and contemporary artists as well as maps, scientific illustrations and incredible underwater photography.

These works were selected by an international panel of research scientists, marine biologists, conservationists, artists, photographers, museum curators and experts from organisations such as the Wildlife Conservation Society and Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The Reward

Backlit waves crash over the sea forming an arch

Two waves collide off the coast of Newcastle, Australia, and are magnificently backlit by the Sun. Photo by Scott Harrison/daily_salt


Video stills of various sea life

Stills from the short film Meanwhile shows the beautiful world of corals and starfish at high magnification, using time-lapse photography. Photo by Sandro Bocci/Julia Set Lab

Brig on the Water

Early photograph of a brig on the water

Gustave Le Gray’s image of a brig on the water was photographed off the coast of France in 1856. For a time, this image was believed to be one of the most famous and widely distributed photographs in the world. Photo by The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Gift of A Hyatt Mayor


Underwater statues including a woman on her phone

An underwater sculpture by Jason deCaires Taylor, made of stainless steel, pH-neutral cement, basalt and aggregates. Over time, this sculpture will biodegrade. This installation is located at Las Coloradas, on the Lanzarote coast, Spain. Photo by Jason deCaires Taylor

The Royal Game of the Dolphin

Painting of a dolphin eating fish

A hand-coloured engraving by the artist William J Darton Jr, made in 1821. This is actually a board game, with 12 illustrated panels featuring a huge dolphin and flying fish, amongst other curious images. Photo by MIT Museum

Perpetual Ocean

Ocean currents as seen from space

Tens of thousands of ocean currents were captured in this scientific visualisation created by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in 2011. Photo by NASA/SVS

Snøhetta – Under

A restaurant in Norway that protrudes from the ocean

Europe’s first underwater restaurant, Under, photographed during construction in Norway in 2016. The restaurant, designed by Snøhetta to resemble a sunken periscope, is fronted by a huge panoramic window that gives visitors a view of marine life. Photo by Ivar Kvaal

More images from Science Focus:

Father and Son

Father and son fishing in a boat over a reef

A native fisherman with his young son sail in an outrigger from a village on the Willaumez Peninsula on New Britain Island, Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea. Photo by David Doubilet


Coral colours

Trachyphyllia, a type of stony coral, is seen here in amazing detail. This image is part of a time-lapse video which shows how corals change colour over time. Photo by NNtonio Rod (Antonio Rodríguez Canto)

The Great Wave

Hokusai's great wave painting

Katsushika Hokusai’s iconic Under the Wave off Kanagawa (or The Great Wave) was made between 1830 and 1832. It depicts huge waves crashing over small fishing boats in the shadow of Mount Fuji. Photo by The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York/H O Havemeyer Collection

Ocean: Exploring the Marine World (£44.95, Phaidon.com) is available to preorder now from all good bookshops

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