In December 2014, George Monbiot wrote a piece on “Why Whale Poo Matters” for the Guardian with the subtitle, “Not only does nutrient-rich whale poo help reverse the effects of climate change—it’s a remarkable example that nothing in the natural world occurs in isolation.”38 He focused on the trophic cascades arising from the release of large fecal plumes at the ocean’s surface. As Rose, van Dooren, and Matthew Chrulew write in their introduction to Extinction Studies: Stories of Time, Death, and Generations, “while charismatic endangered species occasionally grab a headline or two, all around us a quieter systemic process of loss is relentlessly ticking on.”19 They argue that extinction must be set within a multispecies framework where the focus is “on understanding and responding to processes of collective death, where not just individual organisms, but entire ways and forms of life, are at stake.”20 Key to the approach, then, is moving away from the notion of an extinction event that takes place upon the death of the last individual and toward extinction as a longer, drawn-out process that affects many other living forms.21. In an influential article for The Scientific American, “The Last of the Great Whales,” published in 1966, conservationist Scott McVay joined the chorus of concern about the future of great whales. latest news, feel-good stories, analysis and more, Coronavirus vaccine ‘arrives in the UK’ and is on its way to devolved nations, ‘High value’ business passengers to be exempt from travel quarantine, Paul Robinson names Frank Lampard’s two best summer signings and makes Chelsea title prediction, Police could probe BBC over Princess Diana’s Panorama interview with Martin Bashir, Hollyoaks spoilers: Verity Hutchinson exposes evil Edward to Diane in huge showdown. video. Abstract. A local safety board spokesman told broadcaster NOS: ‘We are trying to decide how we can bring the train down in a careful and controlled manner.’. Still, at the same time as one is met by the taxonomic riches of these newly discovered “reducing environments,” trying to determine the aftereffects of whaling is also a key task. However, I have not been able to discuss the specific creatures affected in detail. point out, “whale falls influence the deep-sea floor in a manner analogous to tree falls in forests, by altering local food availability, providing habitat structure, and supporting diverse biotic assemblages.”47 Given the strong effects that whale falls have on these communities, the massive depletion of whales—with estimates of losses of between 66 percent and 90 percent of populations48—suggest that with this loss of habitat “some specialized whale-fall species probably went extinct as a result of commercial whaling.”49 When some questioned the significance of whale falls for deep sea ecosytems,50 Butman and her colleagues responded somewhat acerbically, “we conclude that millions of falling whales . A shallow-water whale-fall experiment in the north Atlantic @article{Dahlgren2006ASW, title={A shallow-water whale-fall experiment in the north Atlantic}, author={Thomas G. Dahlgren and H. Wiklund and Bj{\"o}rn K{\"a}llstr{\"o}m and T. Lund{\"a}lv and C. R. Smith and A. Glover}, journal={Cahiers De Biologie Marine}, year={2006}, volume={47}, pages={385 … HUMPBACK WHALE Megaptera novaeangliae STATUS Endangered LENGTH 39–49ft DIET Krill with small amounts of fish and plankton. Yet central to the ethographic approach are notions of encounter, recognition, and detailed knowledge, not just for creating the extinction story, but—crucially—for developing a “shared ground” as the basis of the ethical import of these stories—aspects that I will discuss in more detail below. Read More Related Articles A neighbour said: ‘We woke up at a quarter past twelve. Rose, “Connectivity Thinking, Animism, and the Pursuit of Liveliness,” 495. Ursula Heise’s Imagining Extinction has explored the literary form of the “extinction story,”2 showing how these forms, such as tragedy, elegy, epic, and comedy, shape understandings of the nature/culture divide in a variety of problematic ways. A train driver’s life was saved by a giant whale tale after his train crashed through the barriers at the end of the track. However, what came as a surprise to ocean researchers was the finding that dead whales support entire ecosystems. Dolly Jørgensen has explored the trope of the “endling” and the mobilization of the “last of a species” to shape understandings of the extinction crisis as well as the way dominant extinction narratives have sought to reduce the uncertainty around “the last” to secure a decision around species absence.3 Extinction stories arising from within de-extinction efforts have also been challenged, and read in various ways including as “narcissistic attachments” or charismatic fantasies.4 Work in “spectral geographies” has been particularly fruitful, with an interest in how processes of extirpation and extinction produce ghostly landscapes of haunting and absence.5, This article arises from my involvement in the Extinction Studies Working Group, which has largely approached the storying of extinction via a further approach, that of “lively ethography.”6 Thom van Dooren and Deborah Bird Rose have described this as “an approach grounded in an attentiveness to the evolving ways of life (or ēthea; singular: ethos) [hence ethography] of diverse forms of human and nonhuman life and in an effort to explore and perhaps restory the relationships that constitute and nourish them.”7 Here the emphasis has been on the need for a storytelling that foregrounds the involvements species have in complex, relational forms of life. This move can also be found in research on whale falls. Hatley for instance has described his experience of first scanning through a list of extinct species in Japan, reflecting that “extinction has become so endemic to our time that choosing (as if choice where the modality by which these responsibilities are to be fulfilled!) The rest are trivial: they ‘drop out’ of history.”92 From the examples discussed so far, it is possible to see these frames at work within unknown extinctions. A whale fall occurs when the carcass of a whale has fallen onto the ocean floor at a depth greater than 1,000 m, in the bathyal or abyssal zones. Local seafloor enrichment To move toward an answer to this question, I first unpack the ethographical approach, with a particular emphasis on the importance of “shared ground” in Rose’s and van Dooren’s work. Crucially, he challenged the neglect of study of the kind of cascades I had being wondering about, noting that “the excreta and dead bodies of larger animals do not appear to have been seriously considered as food of the bottom fauna.”42 Fifty or so years later oceanographer Craig Smith and his team were able to announce in Nature that through the use of a deep submergence research vessel off the coast of California they had discovered a decomposing carcass of a fin or blue whale which had “produced a microhabitat distinct from the surrounding . Alternatively, the whale fall may be too recent to allow sufficient time for vesicomyid colonization. The economic, technological, and military boons from the whales’ bodies are considerable, and so is the conflict over their remains. Get your need-to-know Newly released video footage from the Exploration Vessel Nautilus shows the whale bones on the seafloor, in what researchers term a natural " whale fall." She has recent publications in GeoHumanities, Parallax, and New Formations. In her essay “States of Suspension: Trans-corporeality at Sea,” Alaimo emphasizes the need to develop “modes of knowing, being, and acting” that extend posthumanist approaches “across the vast, liquid, and barely known expanses of the seas.”78 While the ethographical approach has situated itself more clearly within a philosophical animist framework than a posthumanist one,79 Alaimo’s call is still a relevant one for us here. This understanding need not be an instrumental one that is explored only to know what makes the orchid flower, but in a way that can “shift the patterns of our ethical responses and responsibilities more widely.”99 That is, Smith proposes that “ethics flows through the landscape as we attend to it. The emphasis on raising awareness of the particularities involved in extinction processes forms one aspect of this. Sperm were said to sink the least often (at least during the open-boat era). Reflecting on something much closer to our everyday lives than the deep sea, namely the microscopic lives lived out in the soil, Smith notes that here too we are met with an ignorance and unknowability that is astonishing. If “each ethos is also a style or way of being and becoming with others,”13 then can we tell ethical stories of becoming with the unknown and unrecognizable? What had been, perhaps, a rather uninteresting rocky slope begins to take on new significance as we become open to wider possibilities of other aspects of this place and other members of this community appear in our world.”100 The specificity of encounter can thus potentially draw us into a more detailed knowing that expands our senses of ethical commitment, but in doing so it also suggests that others whom we cannot know “appear” in a certain sense as well. Rose, “Val Plumwood’s Philosophical Animism.”, Nicholson, Schuerger, and Race, “Migrating Microbes and Planetary Protection”; Rummel, “Planetary Exploration in the Time of Astrobiology.”. “Extinction” is the word one uses when one discusses policies and lists, when one determines dates and definitions.”18 Not only does this language fail to capture the significance of the loss of a species, it also fails to bring to light the relational forms of life that made the species possible. With the increasing interest in thinking more critically about the oceans within the humanities and social sciences, a wide range of scholars have explored how the oceans threaten, rework and re-form Western conceptual frameworks through the different ontologies they offer.77 Given our interests here in multispecies interrelationality and responsibilities that occur beyond knowledge and encounter, Stacy Alaimo’s account of a transcorporeal ethics thought through the deep sea is particularly useful. As Joe Roman et al. This approach, developed by Deborah Bird Rose and Thom van Dooren, seeks to draw readers into imaginative encounters with embodied, specific, and lively creatures to support situated ethical responses. Even so, in keeping with Rose’s emphasis on connectivity with our actual lives, I want to share how I came to start looking into the topic. Instead they point to the intricate processes of collective death that have occurred due to the industrial-level removals of whales. Thus I want to return to the problem of “shared ground” advocated by Rose via the work of philosopher Mick Smith to move between earth and sea, and toward what we might call a “suspended ground.”. Their findings suggest that whale-fall specialists are likely to be “highly dependent on the evolution and widespread occurrence of very large whales,”72 the same whales that have been the key targets for whalers. comm., June 26, 2019). Butman, Carlton, and Palumbi, “Whaling Effects on Deep-Sea Biodiversity,” 463. Countless creatures who will never appear within human frames,”106 the account I have offered rewrites their loss as a situated one, a situated unknown extinction, grounded within specific processes of habitat loss and resource extraction, and thus with specific stories of benefit, loss, and responsibility that we must still unravel.107 Just as Mick Smith’s orchid might bring us toward concerns for soil microbes, might whale-fall ecosystems show us how the “the appearance of the [whale fall] Other shifts the ground on which we stand,”108 drawing out concerns that are grounded in possibilities of embodied encounter but that turn explicitly toward the encounter’s openness and mysteriousness. Search for other works by this author on: Environmental Humanities (2020) 12 (2): 454–474. During the modern era they had to pump the whales full of air to keep them afloat. Crucially, reconsidering ethographies of extinction from suspended ground can help sensitize us to the ways Rose and van Dooren’s texts already make room for the unknown. whale-carcass implantation experiments, conducted off southern California, to study whale-fall community ecology and phylogenetics (Smith 1992, Smith et al. Background Humans have reduced the abundance of many large marine vertebrates, including whales, large fish, and sharks, to only a small percentage of their pre-exploitation levels. Spanning an epic story across approximately fifteen hours of playtime, players will command the armies of Riverwatch to bring an end to a sinister plot to shoot down the legendary creatures and throw the world into chaos. 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