While pursuing my MA in marine conservation, over the course of three years, I spent much of my free time diving, snorkeling, kayaking, exploring and naturalist-guiding in the Taputeranga Marine Reserve – one of the world’s most urban marine protected areas (MPA’s).
This MPA is located within the spectacular Sub-Antarctic ecosystem of the Cook Strait, or Raukawa Moana, as it is known to the Māori people, who discovered it at least 500 years before Captain James Cook. Here, along Wellington New Zealand’s rocky South Coast, I was inspired to take on this quirky and creative awareness-raising project.
I had recently befriended a local American artist, Margo Janke-Gilman of Lulu’s Body Art, and her friend, an Australian pioneer of Wellington’s burlesque scene who goes by her stage name – Jayne L’amour. Together, we had a blast collaborating over one weekend to create this unique photo story in an area known to local divers as ‘Siren’s Rocks.’
This story is intended to evoke the mysterious, ephemeral, erotic, and feminine beauty and productivity of this ecologically crucial and culturally important marine area.
Furthermore, by joining the popular and globally prevalent myth of the mermaid with the concept of marine protection, I intend to reveal the very real magic of living alongside a thriving and healthy coastal ecosystem – that can provide kai (food), livelihoods, and life enrichment.
(The body painting, costume design, and photography are all my original works, created with help from Margo, and the images I shot with a simple point and shoot camera (Olympus Tough). Modeled by Jayne L’amour on traditional Māori lands in Aeotearoa.)