MIT Sea Grant visiting artist Keith Ellenbogen explores the depths of the diverse marine ecosystem off the coast of Boston and Cape Cod through his project, Space to Sea — A Photographic Journey into Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary. The underwater conservation photographer was awarded a National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Award to fund a three-year exploration and characterization of the sanctuary using lens-based media technologies. At the intersection of art, science, and technology, Ellenbogen works with key MIT Sea Grant scientists, engineers, and students to enrich public perception of local waters.
Space to Sea adds a layer of immersive visual storytelling to the larger environmental and research initiatives linked to the sanctuary. Through underwater photography and a variety of imaging techniques like microscopy and 360˚ virtual reality, Ellenbogen provides a window to the rich biodiversity on par with ecosystems typically associated with tropical climates. From dolphins and mackerel, to exotic planktonic creatures, the photographer captures artistic first images of these iconic species in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS).
Integrating educational elements into the project, Ellenbogen collaborates with MIT students to maximize impact. He extends his reach with a student-designed wireless controlled underwater pole camera, and broadens his perspective through student-researched image visualization techniques incorporating NASA satellite data to explore phytoplankton blooms seen from space.
Magnifying a single drop of water to planetary proportions, images of otherworldly creatures inspired citizen marine explorers at the New England Aquarium IMAX Theater on Boston Ocean Day. Space to Sea aims to bring the unique and vibrant ecosystem of this important marine sanctuary to the local community and continues to connect science and art through visual media, environmental storytelling and outreach on a local and global stage.