Oceanographers want people to appreciate the beauty and mystery of the deep sea floor.

Dr Margaret Dolan from the Geological Survey of Norway says seafloor images are usually studied with a scientific eye, so the breathtaking beauty of marine landscapes is often overlooked.

She and her colleagues have now set up Visual Soundings - a website dedicated to displaying seafloor and oceanographic imagery with an artistic lean.

“New techniques such as multibeam echosounders have revolutionised scientists’ knowledge of the appearance, shape and structure of the seabed,” Dr Dolan said.

“In doing so, they sometimes reveal startlingly beautiful glimpses of the seafloor that look more like works of art than scientific data.”

Dr Lucieer said the images featured on the website include a one kilometre long feature, in the shape of a figure ‘9’, incised by an iceberg on the seabed of the Barents Sea off Norway’s north-east coast, a haunting tattoo-like pattern formed on the seabed off Malta, and a structure off the Norwegian coast that bears an uncanny resemblance to a bird’s head.

“My colleague Margaret Dolan and I wanted to share the sense of wonder that we often experience when studying acoustic images.

“Through Visual Soundings we are sharing some of our favourite images and inviting others to contribute their own acoustic images.”