Introduction

In the absence of light there is always sound. In the darkness of the ocean sound becomes our light, illuminating the seabed and revealing its complexities to human kind, often for the first time. Just as the photographers of landscapes want to share the scenes that inspire, impress and uplift them, marine scientists want to share the hidden terrains that make the seafloor so captivating.

Visual Soundings creates an opportunity for others to view the wonders of beautiful textures, patterns and shapes of the earth beneath the waves. The contributors to this site have been ‘listening’ to the seafloor for decades with increasingly sophisticated technology. Seafloor images are inspected with a scientific eye, while the beauty of the imagery is largely overlooked. It is not until we take a step backward that we start to see the splendor in these marine landscapes.

Marine scientists are the gate keepers to a whole world of seafloor imagery, revealing places that most land dwellers may never be able to see or experience. We live ever in the view of the magnificent ocean, but are frequently reminded that the ocean is not the inexhaustible resource it once seemed. Promotion of its wonder is one way we can encourage people to take responsibility and action.

The rovers on Mars have been sending back extraordinary images since 2003, making us more familiar with the surface of this dusty red planet, than we are with the surface of the ocean floor. Artists have been inspired by these martian images, yet the spectacular textures, patterns and shapes on our seafloor remain largely unseen. Visual Soundings exposes these hidden landscapes.

The beauty of the surface of Planet Earth beneath the waves is still being discovered. This site presents some of the most breathtaking scenes revealed so far, which reflect the variety of seabeds around the world in different environmental settings. Each section highlights one aesthetic concept that creates curiosity in the acoustic imagery – composition, moment, wonder, pattern.  Images are evidence that we have explored our planet, providing a true and permanent record of the environment observed at that instant. Visual Soundings is a testimony of some of our most beautiful moments observing the seabed as we use sound to explore the Earth’s surface beneath the waves.