Author(s): Joy McCann
Flowing completely around the Earth and unimpeded by any landmass, the wild and elusive Southern Ocean reaches from the seasonally-shifting icy continent of Antarctica to the southern coastlines and islands of Australia, New Zealand, South America and South Africa. In Wild Sea, Joy McCann interweaves the fascinating environmental and cultural histories of the Southern Ocean--long neglected by writers and historians--drawing from sea captains' journals, whalers' log books, explorers' letters, scientific reports, ancient beliefs, and her own voyage of discovery. In a hybrid space where science, technology, culture, imagination and myth converge, Wild Sea explores a little-known ocean and its emerging importance as a barometer of planetary climate change.
The Southern Ocean has long been shaded by its Pacific, Atlantic and Indian counterparts in human consciousness, even here in southern Australia where its moods and features form part of our every day. Our northern histories, an inhospitable climate, blurred geographic definition and sparse human habitation have combined to marginalise the Southern Ocean in our thoughts and in how we view ourselves. With this fascinating and erudite book, historian Joy McCann seeks to redirect our gaze, rendering this sweeping space with a fine brush, taking in its natural wonders and often-forgotten stories of its cultural history. Portraits of whales of all kinds, of the majestic wandering albatross and guileless emperor penguin are blended effortlessly with indigenous folklore, Coleridge’s ancient mariner, legendary sea monsters and the spirit of the Flying Dutchman. Less poetic is the confrontation with ravening colonial predation on the natural world, an early testament to insensate man and the effects of ungoverned economic activity.
Following in the footsteps of Rachel Carson, whose environmental works in the 1950s awoke a generation to the joys of and perils faced by the natural world, the author seeks to engage a wide audience. Employing a flowing, lyrical style interweaving history, science and storytelling, she succeeds handsomely, demonstrating that “far from being a wild sea at the uttermost end of Earth, the Southern Ocean is deeply entangled with humanity’s past and the world’s future.” - MARK