From the Mountaintops to the Deep Sea: Mapping Ecological Niche

Scientific writing & Illustration

Tags: writing illustration

A whiskery shark hunts for octopus in the coral reef. This was one of the illustrations I made to accompany the article.

In 2020, I was contacted by Guy Baker, editor of The Marine Biologist magazine, who asked me if I would be interested in writing an article about my MSc research for the magazine. I had given a talk at the Marine Biological Association (where the magazine is based out of) a few months earlier and it was received well, so Guy thought an article might be a good fit.

A personal goal of mine is to ensure all the science I produce is accessible - not confined to the ivory tower of academia - so I was excited at the opportunity. I’d also been playing around with a way to visually tell the story of my MSc thesis, which explores the relationship between shark and ray diets and depth. The result: a cover illustration and article for the MBA magazine, titled From the Mountaintops to the Deep Sea: Mapping Ecological Niche.

Cover mockup of the issue.

Initial cover idea. I really liked the mountains in the sharks and the floating clouds in the stingrays, but unfortunately it meant that text on top wasn’t very readable.

A lengthy process

This was my first time illustrating something for a cover, where lots of text needed to be superimposed on top. It took a few back-and-forths with the editor to go from “nice illustration” to “workable cover”.