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Fish #103 Snake Pipefish, Entelurus aequoreusx ~ Debby Mason
Asia Shoal is a popular dive site situated on the northern side of Drake's Island which lies directly at the mouth of the River Tamar in Plymouth Sound. The depth ranges from 5 to 18 metres, with a mainly sandy seabed with some rocky outcrops providing habitat for a wide variety of marine life including sponges, crabs, cuttlefish, scallops and flat fish. I was diving there and had just stopped to observe a Cuttlefish which was performing its spectacular colour changes when a Snake Pipefish curiously approached me and took an interest in my air hose - it curled itself around. It stayed there for several minutes until my buddy gently removed it and we continued our dive.
From watching Jacques Cousteau's 'Silent World' as a child and family holidays rock pooling and crabbing in Cornwall, the sea has been a constant fascination and source of inspiration. Books such as Jules Verne's '20,000 Leagues under the Sea' with his vivid descriptions of strange marine life; the evocative and truly mystical names of species, Sea Dragons, Nautilus, Argonaut and Fangtooth, you wonder if they really exist.
My drawings are taken from life, either caught on fishing or diving trips, from aquariums and from Plymouth Fish Market. A recent departure was a series of etchings of plankton drawn from looking through a microscope at the Marine Biological Association, quite a challenge! This felt like a natural progression to the series of the true giants of the sea, Whales that I have been working on, inspired by a trip to the Azores.
More unusual creatures are from the Natural History Museum in London, a wonderful resource and I feel it is such a privilege to work in a place where incredible discoveries lie and where more are constantly being found. This for me reinforces and completes the connection between my ideas and reality.
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