What Glass Figurines Are Teaching Us About the Ocean

This conservationist is using art to track change in the ocean.

Like a detective on the case, a Cornell University professor is using a set of handcrafted glass masterpieces to gauge the health of ocean invertebrates. In the late 1800s Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolf created more than 700 invertebrates in glass, celebrating the ocean’s astonishing diversity at that time. Drew Harvell, who curates the collection, has a huge spreadsheet that lists every piece. For eight years she’s been searching out the actual animals and matching them to the art, to see what may have changed. She’s found most of them, but some are endangered. In her book, A Sea of Glass, she’s written about it. “The quest to find the living matches connects Blaschka history, current ocean change, and art,” she says.

Read This Next

First great apes at U.S. zoo receive COVID-19 vaccine made for animals

The priceless primate fossils found in a garbage dump

Buried for 4,000 years, this ancient culture could expand the 'Cradle of Civilization'

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet