Art Meets Science and Kids Meet Kelp 


A creative collaboration between SIMS scientists, artists and primary school kids culminated in a new film launched by Zali Steggall OAM, Independent member for Warringah, on Sunday 24th November at the Manly Art Gallery & Museum.


The project enabled by John T Reid Foundation involved artists Jennifer Turpin and Michaelie Crawford from Turpin + Crawford Studio with curator Christiane Statham, filmmakers from Lightwell Studio, and musician Ben Fink working with Year 4 students from Balgowlah North Public School to make an animated film about SIMS flagship project, ‘Operation Crayweed’.


‘Operation Crayweed’ is an environmental rehabilitation project that is restoring underwater forests of crayweed along 70 kilometres of Sydney’s coastline from Cronulla to Palm Beach. The project is led by marine scientists from the Sydney Institute of Marine Science (SIMS) and The University of NSW, Sydney and The University of Sydney. Crayweed, an important species of seaweed, was lost from the Sydney coastline in the 1980s – most likely due to sewage pollution. Although water quality has improved dramatically since then, the crayweed forests have not naturally returned. Operation Crayweed is bringing crayweed back to reefs where it once flourished, and re-establishing this essential habitat and food source for Sydney’s coastal marine biodiversity.


The latest planting site is in Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve in Manly.

The students first learnt about Operation Crayweed from marine scientists from SIMS. They went on an excursion to the Long Reef rock platform to learn first-hand about the importance of sustaining a healthy marine eco-system of sea fauna and flora. The students then went to the SIMS Lab in Chowder Bay to see sea-creatures under the microscope and learn more about the seaweed currently being restored to Sydney’s coastal waters by ‘’Operation Crayweed’.


The Balgowlah North students then explored that scientific knowledge through the creative process of drawing, song-writing, singing, and dancing to make the animated film with the artists, musician and filmmakers. They created drawings for the film’s animation sequences in a series of art workshops; wrote the words for the film’s Crayweed song – and recorded it at a local sound recording studio; were interviewed about their understanding of the project; and danced in sea creature costumes for the film’s song and dance sequence.


These students have become wonderful ambassadors for marine health and the importance of crayweed restoration. They will visit local schools to show their film and talk about crayweed , and the film is available on YouTube.

SIMS congratulates all the students on an amazing job and an awesome film!