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Coral Reefs in the Face of Climate Change

SciArt Mural Project

brought art to the UNSW campus in the form of mural designs on coral reefs and climate change.

Australia is home to the largest coral reef system in the world - The Great Barrier Reef. However, as sea surface temperatures continue to rise, corals face threats such as bleaching and ocean acidification, which make it difficult to sustain the marine life that rely on this system. These murals help communicate our current understanding of the changing ecosystem and bring some color to a dark topic.


Five coral reef scientists were paired up with five local artists to create murals depicting the research topic of each scientist. Each mural design tells part of the story of this resilient yet fragile coral reef ecosystem in the face of climate change.



Coral bleaching across time

Charlotte is a PhD student at UNSW studying how physical components of reefs like water flow affect bleaching susceptibility and how these factors can be used to help coral restoration. Shamanthi is a UNSW art and design student and professional mural artist. Their design shows a timeline of bleaching events from 1998 to 2017.

Jesse is a PhD candidate at UNSW studying the interactions between coral and macro algae in a process called tropicalisation, which occurs when warmer temperatures push the range where coral can live. Vickie is a Sydney-based artist who traditionally illustrates native flora of Australia. Here she uses her artistic style to depict native corals of Australia. 

When Coral meets kelp

Mural art.jpg

The Origin spiral

Melissa's research focused on the relationship between microscopic algae and corals and how that relationship underpins the productivity of coral reefs. Elijah, her partner, helped to create an image that highlights the importance of the micro scale interactions in our macro scale universe.

Coral Mermaid

Tess is a PhD candidate at the University of Newcastle studying the prevalence and patterns of coral disease which increase under heat stress. She is determined to connect humans to the importance of saving coral reefs. Natalie, a graduate from UNSW art and design, paints a woman overgrown with coral to show this connection.


Soft corals in Sydney

Rosie is a PhD student from UNSW studying the pink cauliflower soft coral, Dendronephtheya australis, a home to seahorses in Sydney. Her work directly help managers determine how to restore these native corals. Corey, a Sydney-based mural artist, portrays these animals in his iconic bright and abstract spray paint shapes.

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