A sense of collective confidence emerged from the process of writing a song about the environmental plight of the Great Barrier Reef that would have eluded them alone. They moved beyond their individual skills and knowledge, while also extending their customary practices and methods.
Dr Hamylton says she has always been drawn to music and it proved the perfect way for this disparate team of researchers to harness their creativity and find a new platform for their message. After their time at Bundanon, The Blue Spotted Rays recorded a song: Rock The Boat.
Rock the Boat was initially inspired by the swaying motion of the Kalinda, an uncomfortable experience for some of the researchers.
“It also proved to be a handy metaphor, as we call out for people to speak up and defend our precious Great Barrier Reef from the effects of climate change,” Ms Williams says.
“For me, music provides a powerful and provocative avenue for engaging with a particular theme,” Dr Hamylton says. “I have always been impressed that doing the washing up at 11pm, when everyone else has gone to bed, can be a joyful experience when music is involved.”
How science and the arts came together
The merging of the arts and sciences brought the team together in a way they had never expected. They drew on their creative inspiration and scientific insight, bringing to life a song that is catchy, heartfelt, and draws on the folk-infused political songs of the past. It could have been torn from the 1960s counterculture of San Francisco.
So, what next for the little song that could? The Blue Spotted Rays are sending Rock The Boat out into the world, where, through radio play and podcasts, it is already connecting with the public in ways that scientific data typically do not. The vinyl is set for release in September. They plan to send a copy to Prime Minster Scott Morrison.
The band is hoping it can play a part in continuing the conversation about the need to act on climate change and the urgency of the threats facing the Reef.
“An interdisciplinary collaboration saved the Reef in the 1970s, and, now that the challenge has been scaled up, we hope to learn from that story and share insights that will allow it to be saved again,” Dr Hamylton says.
“Most people see art and science as a binary, but there is an often unacknowledged creativity in science. Creativity is the heart of the best, most useful science. It is really about thinking outside the box.”