Unique art hatches from love for marine science

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Marine biologist Nicola Thomas with her art.
Camera IconMarine biologist Nicola Thomas with her art. Credit: Laurie Benson/Albany Advertiser, Laurie Benson

When most people see seaweed on the beach, they don’t think to look twice.

But Albany marine biologist Nicola Thomas is taking the strands of washed-up weed and creating art to share her love for the marine plants.

“I really enjoy being able to draw attention to something that so many people would walk past without a second glance into a piece of artwork,” she said.

“I love the sheer diversity of seaweed species.

“There are three main divisions — brown, green and red — but within these there are so many species, each with very unique characteristics, which I wanted to capture.”

Ms Thomas works during the day growing single-celled algae to feed shellfish at the Albany Shellfish Hatchery.

However, in her spare time, she is pursuing her fascination with seaweed and creating scientific art.

“All seaweeds are algae, but not all algaes are seaweeds,” she said. “The term algae encompasses everything from single-celled organisms to huge kelps.

“Seagrasses, however, are unrelated. They are land plants that have evolved to live in marine environments.”

Ms Thomas collects, washes and identifies dead seaweed from the beach before pressing and framing it.

She said her favourite species was cystophora moniliformis.

“It is so delicate with so many thin blades,” Ms Thomas said.

“As my aim is to show how amazingly intricate seaweed can be, I try to include as many different types as possible.

“There is such a wonderful range of seaweed and seagrass species around Albany and the South West.

“The incredible marine life is the key reason which encouraged my move down here from Perth.”

See her work on Instagram page @southwestseaweeds.

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