Observing life on the edge

Ecosystems as early warning signs

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  • Published 20220427
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-74-0
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

I KNOW THESE things. A recognisable and deep clunk as I walk along the cobble beach, its round rocks moving like bowling balls, crashing underfoot. A learned response of ankle flexion to maintain balance. An automatic eye that seeks out the flatter, more stable rocks that allow faster passage. The sound of a satisfying rumble as waves retreat from the shore, and the unmistakable and heady smell of rotting kelp mixed with dimethyl sulphide: the smell of the sea. Am I walking the coastline of subantarctic Macquarie Island? Alas no. This is one of the volcanic cobble beaches on Tasmania’s Derwent Estuary and, lucky for me, near to home. Beautiful in its own right, but special for its transporting abilities – it’s a wonderful aide-­mémoire to one of the tiniest jewels on the planet.

I’m approaching sixty. As I skip over the mudstone platforms to get to this special beach most mornings, I don’t feel any different to how I felt as the young twenty-one-­year-­old who was first given an opportunity to study on Macquarie Island, a thirty-­four-­kilometre-­long sliver in the Southern Ocean, about halfway between Tasmania and the Antarctic continent. But here I am, having spent almost two-thirds of my life so far studying and contemplating life in Antarctica and the subantarctic.

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About the author

Dana Michelle Bergstrom

Dana Michelle Bergstrom, an applied ecologist at the Australian Antarctic Division and a visiting fellow at the University of Wollongong, focuses on climate change...

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