Letter to a seabird
Keywords:blue humanities, animal studies, australasian gannet, multispecies entanglement, surfing, affective encounters, Brian Nelson, COVID-19, intertidal zone
In May 2020, when I should have been experiencing spring in Scotland, I was instead living in Queensland, surfing the point breaks of the southern Gold Coast as the autumn swells rolled in. It was there that I noticed a bird I had never seen before and didn’t know how to identify. Over coming weeks and months, I would watch this bird and others like it dive for fish from a great height, mesmerised. I wanted to know more. In my strange/letter, addressed to the birds, I track my attempts to identify and understand them via close observation and research, a process that led me back to Scotland through Bryan Nelson’s monograph, The Gannet (1978). I trace the way in which I began to feel a sense of kinship with this animal, while also interrogating the limits of that kinship, amid a backdrop of border closures and uncertainty that was the strange southern winter of 2020.
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