Pale Blue Dot: Our Blue Planet

Our watery, life-filled planet is unique in the Universe, as far as we know.

All that blue connects us​, geographically and through a shared responsibility for caring for our world’s oceans. By working together, we can secure a better future for marine environments. ​


Download: Our blue planet

Pale Blue Dot

It’s 30 years since the famous astronomer, author and broadcaster Carl Sagan asked NASA to turn the Voyager 1 space probe around to capture a photograph of Earth before leaving the Solar System. The now iconic image shows the Earth as a tiny, pale blue dot in the vastness of space. A powerful reminder that we inhabit a beautiful – yet fragile – watery planet, and that with all that water comes life and responsibility for it.

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”  – Carl Sagan

One  World  Ocean

​Driven by ocean gyres – circular ocean currents formed by global wind patterns and forces created by Earth’s rotation – a great ‘conveyer belt’ circulates ocean water (and with it heat, food and people) around planet Earth. These circular movements, plus vertical circulation caused by differences in ocean temperature and salinity (saltiness), mean that actions and effects in one part of our oceans can be felt elsewhere. We are all connected.



Tales of the Sea 

Our poetry, literature, music, art and pop culture are flooded with ideas, images and stories about the sea. From the trident-wielding sea gods of old to sailors, explorers and adventurers like Captain Nemo or Dory, or the Kelpies and Selkies of Scottish myth. Seas and oceans and the things that live in, on and alongside them have always been at the heart of the stories that shape us.

Mythical Tales

There are a range of water-loving mythical creatures throughout folklore. Here are just a few:

Name: Selkie

Location: Scotland

Selkies are said to be seals in water but shed their skins on land to become human.

If an ordinary mortal sees a Selkie in human form, they will fall in love.

Name: Kelpie

Location: Scotland

Kelpies are mythical water spirits that can take the form of a human or, more commonly, a horse.

But beware, if you climb on board you will stick fast and be dragged under the water.

Name: Loch Ness Monster

Location: Loch Ness

Also known as ‘Nessie’, rumour has it that this mythical monster hides in the depths of Loch Ness.

Despite many attempting to capture it (on film or in person) Nessie remains elusive.

Name: Kraken

Location: Scandinavia

A gigantic octopus-like creature, the Kraken is said to hunt sailors and to be able to take down whole ships with its huge tentacles.

Stories may be based on a real creature, the giant squid.

Name: Mermaid

Location: Worldwide

Tales of half-human, half-fish beings are found in many cultures and stories from around the world.

Most commonly female, the male equivalent of the mermaid is the merman.

Name: Ashrays

Location: Scotland

These aquatic fairies, often mistaken for ghosts, live deep in the sea and are only seen at night.

It is said that they must return underwater before sunrise and cannot come onto land.

Name: Grindylow

Location: England

These shadowy water demons are said to use their long skinny arms to grab and drown children that come too close to the water’s edge.

Name: Kappa

Location: Japan

These water imps are reportedly human-like beings with webbed hands and feet and a turtle-like shell. They are known to favour cucumbers and to enjoy sumo wrestling.

Name: Panlong

Location: China

This coiled water dragon is an ancient motif in Chinese art. Said to have no wings and to be incapable of flight they hibernate in the depths of watery marshes.

Name: Blue Men of the Minch

Location: Scotland

About the same size and shape as humans but completely blue, these mythical men are said to have the power to create storms and to challenge ships captains to poetry competitions.

Name: Sea Monster

Location: Worldwide

Here there be monsters and here there be dragons was marked on old maps to show areas of the unknown and the mysteries that hid below.




To Edinburgh Science Festival

To Pale Blue Dot

To Scotland & Yokohama – Ocean Heritage