However, I have not been able to discuss the specific creatures affected in detail. Smith, Roman, and Nation, “A Metapopulation Model for Whale-Fall Specialists,” 14. This approach seeks to draw readers into imaginative encounters with embodied, specific, and lively creatures to support situated ethical responses.8 In this article, I explore this mode of storytelling by approaching the processes of loss that inspired the “save the whale” movement from a more relational perspective. Jelmert and Oppen-Berntsen, “Whaling and Deep-Sea Biodiversity.”. 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!) Remembering that Rose argued to “write into unmaking is a performative practice that calls for multiple strategies,”17 I conclude by suggesting a situated unknowing that foregrounds the role of the unknowable within the ecological animism underpinning lively ethographies, and that helps us to weave this into the approach more explicitly so that the shifting and unsettling nature of shared ground can come to the fore. . Nicholson, Schuerger, and Race, “Migrating Microbes and Planetary Protection,” 389. 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. A subway train in the Netherlands was saved from a spectacular crash when it burst through buffers and landed on an artwork in the shape of a whale tail. Roman et al., “Whales as Marine Ecosystem Engineers,” 377. Drawing on a Levinasian framework that centers on the face-to-face, she suggests that ethical understanding comes not from concepts shared in an abstract way, but from stories that offer “events to be participated in and shared, imaginatively and otherwise.”25 Bringing both of these lines of thought together, van Dooren and Rose write “ethographic storytelling is about responding to others as we encounter them in the richness of their own stories.”26 So alongside the shift from extinction event to extinction as process, are shifts from abstract concepts to embodied encounters. As Joe Roman et al. Jørgensen, “Endling”; Jørgensen, “Presence of Absence.”, Thew, “Narcissistic Attachments”; Lorimer, “On Auks and Awkwardness.”, Garlick, “Cultural Geographies of Extinction”; Ginn, “Death, Absence, and Afterlife”; McCorristine and Adams, “Ghost Species.”, Van Dooren and Rose, “Lively Ethography.”. Large cetacean carcasses at the deep-sea floor, known as ‘whale falls’, provide a resource for generalist-scavenging species, chemosynthetic fauna related to those from hydrothermal vents and cold seeps, and remarkable bone-specialist species such as Osedax worms. Their unknowability enacts a kind of suspension of the type that Alaimo talks about, an experience of being “‘held in an undetermined or undecided state awaiting further information.”105 And yet, I would also suggest that they are not absolutely absent as Alaimo appears to suggest when describing the “not-yet-nor-never-to-be-discovered.” That is rather than being “icons without images, names, or lineages. 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. Indeed the very area where the extinction debts incurred by whaling may still be playing out—the Southern Ocean—is also one that historically had the highest “abundance of very large whale species over evolutionary time scales” and thus is potentially the area most “likely to have developed the greatest diversity of whale-fall specialists.”73 Tragically it is also the area where the study has found that extinction pressures are most extreme since whale populations remain particularly low.74 Even so there continue to be calls to reopen the area for exploitation. comm., June 26, 2019). For more stories like this, check our news page. MICHELLE BASTIAN is senior lecturer on environmental humanities at the Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh. HUMPBACK WHALE Megaptera novaeangliae STATUS Endangered LENGTH 39–49ft DIET Krill with small amounts of fish and plankton. The whale fall was discovered about 2 miles deep near the Davidson Seamount, an “inactive volcanic undersea mountain habitat” off the California coastline, according to the Nautilus expedition team. reference 2 "http://www.columbia.edu/~rwb2103/whale/whalefallintro.html Whale fall … . Recent discoveries of whale fall polychaetes include the chrysopetalid Vigtorniella flokati Dahlgren et al., 2004, and the bone-boring siboglinids Osedax frankpressi Rouse et al., 2004a nd O. rubiplumus Rouse et al., 2004 from off California, and O. mucofloris Glover et al., 2005 from Sweden. Whale falls were first observed in the late 1970s with the development of deep-sea robotic ex This article thus represents my efforts to wrestle with the problem of whether unknown extinctions can be storied from within this frame. Whale carcasses are considered the largest organic inputs reaching the deep ocean floor in a single event. It has been suggested that the extinct species in question are less likely to be specialist scavengers—since these are usually able to eat a range of resources—and more likely to be in the sulphophilic and opportunist stages (Craig Smith, pers. Sperm were said to sink the least often (at least during the open-boat era). Rose, van Dooren, and Chrulew, Extinction Studies, 1. The article’s focus is on the recently discovered ecosystems of creatures that live on the remnants of dead whales on the sea floor, which are known as “whale falls.” It reads these ecosystems via a notion of “suspended ground,” which brings together philosopher Mick Smith’s rethinking of an ethics of encounter with unknown soil extinctions and Stacy Alaimo’s concept of “suspension.” The article argues that engaging with ethographic writing from this perspective enables one to weave a more explicit account of the mysterious and the unknown into the approach. In this case the ability to center embodied or imaginative encounters that draw on specific knowledge of the creatures affected is likely to be impossible. During the modern era they had to pump the whales full of air to keep them afloat. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/22011919-8623219. The story I have begun here needs much more work, then, to continue to develop these links that would ground a responsive ethics through encounters with the unencounterable. First, whale falls are abundant over regional scales in the deep sea and support a A second concern has been how to tell these stories in ways that move readers beyond what Rose has characterized as an “ethical paralysis that is invading our lives,”22 drawing them instead into ethical responsibility. However, for our purposes the way in which these figures might be imagined needs to be approached cautiously. Ridgeon explained how they attached a radio transponder to a dead whale's body and loaded it with rocks for it to fall 700 meters into the "dark abyss". one’s response to concrete manifestations of extinction can tap into an intuitive ethical register that acknowledges and responds to the broader phenomenon without needing to apprehend it directly. Environmental Humanities 1 November 2020; 12 (2): 454–474. This article developed out of the second workshop of the Extinction Studies Working Group in Margaret River, Western Australia, that was held in 2016. At the outset Krogh confessed to the delegates “that I know nothing about it, that I have to offer only more or less vague suggestions.”41 Nonetheless he was willing to propose that to understand the possibilities of life on the ocean floor, we must understand what potential food sources might be available. Returning then to the problem of shared ground, I suggest a correlate notion of “suspended ground.” This notion brings together philosopher Mick Smith’s rethinking of an ethics of encounter in relation to unknown soil extinctions16 and Stacy Alaimo’s concept of “suspension” to see how the ethographic approach might be understood as open to encounters with what we might awkwardly call the unencounterable. In my previous work on leatherback turtles, although I started out with an assumption that they must always live very far from me, I was astonished to find evidence of a leatherback sighting in the Forth of Firth, just offshore from a local Edinburgh beach, where I now live.34 I suggested that this realization enabled a specific everyday connection with these seemingly exotic creatures that might be imaginatively inhabited. As Cheryl Ann Butman and her colleagues argue, when examining the effects of whaling on deep-sea biodiversity, while conservation interest has been centered on issues where the “ecological consequences are at least partially known,” such as habitat destruction and eutrophication, “the more subtle, human-mediated change in global ocean biodiversity due to the effects of whaling on deep-sea communities has potential ecological consequences that were and are entirely unknown. The emphasis on raising awareness of the particularities involved in extinction processes forms one aspect of this. He wrote that “only sharply reduced annual harvests and protective regulations that are both enforceable and enforced offer the possibility that the last of the great whales will survive.”1 Despite the strong feeling evident in the article, McVay’s story of threatened extinction depended on abstract quantitative methods that have been questioned over their ability to communicate the complexities of extinction processes. Roman et al., “Whales as Marine Ecosystem Engineers,” 382. Search for other works by this author on: Environmental Humanities (2020) 12 (2): 454–474. @article{Smith2015WhalefallER, title={Whale-fall ecosystems: recent insights into ecology, paleoecology, and evolution. 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. In his article “Dis(Appearance): Earth, Ethics and Apparently (In)Significant Others,” Smith grapples with the problem of creatures who do not appear to us, and the conflict this creates with many of the ethical theories available for thinking through extinction within a Western context. 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. While this narrows things down a little, it is still not much to go on for an ethography of the sort that van Dooren and Rose have championed. Jørgensen, “Endling”; van Dooren and Rose, “Keeping Faith with the Dead.”. The recognition that is central to the ecological animism underpinning the ethographical approach is not possible in any straightforward way here.76 Thus rather than a shared ground, we are brought into a state of not knowing. 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. Michelle Bastian; Whale Falls, Suspended Ground, and Extinctions Never Known. The implication here is that “regional asynchrony in the extermination of great whales suggests that ocean basins may be in different phases of whale-fall habitat loss and species extinction.”64 Extinctions are most likely “in regions such as the North Atlantic, where great-whale populations . Whale-watching trips are fully booked until October. If encounter is necessary to ethics, if communities are built through mutual recognition, and if a relational ethics are based, in part, on knowing more, then how might we write ethically about the unencounterable? It grapples with losses that have been unrecorded, unmissed, and unrecognizable via the “lively ethography” approach to storying extinction. Unpacking this idea a little further, Smith argues that putting Scheler into conversation with Levinas’s conceptualization of the Other helps us to understand more clearly what might be meant by the claim that an ecological ethics centrally committed to the encounter does not remain only within the realm of direct appearance. 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. While McVay’s approach to storying extinction is a familiar one, it and others like it have come under scrutiny within the environmental humanities from a number of different angles. While reading it I couldn’t help wondering what might have been happening deeper under the surface. As he notes, conservation biologists do not track endangered microbial species, and none are present on lists of known extinctions.94 Even so, with the rapid loss of top soils and changes in agricultural techniques, he claims that “many soil inhabiting species are almost certainly becoming extinct before we even learn of their existence.”95 As a result, and as we saw in the case of whale-fall extinctions, “to the extent that they do not appear as constituents of our world it might seem impossible to concern ourselves with them instrumentally, let alone ethically.”96 What follows is a fascinating effort by Smith to continue to emphasize the significance of knowing encounters for eliciting concerned responses, while also showing how the encounter brings with it an excessiveness that can lead to ethical responses that go beyond the face-to-face itself. Merriam-Webster Dictionary, quoted in Alaimo, “States of Suspension,” 153. SaberToothedWhale 02:44, 6 January 2012 (UTC) dead link. The sculpture, made of polyester, was made by Maarten Struijs and placed in the water at the end of the tracks in 2002. ‘Then I suddenly saw that the tail was occupied. As van Dooren writes, inasmuch as this approach helps to “thicken” our understandings of other creatures’ lifeways, this increase in knowledge can potentially draw “us into new kinds of relationships and, as a result, new accountabilities to others.”23 That is, the aim is to expose “readers to their lives and deaths in a way that might give rise to genuine care and concern.”24 Another aspect, emphasized particularly in Rose’s work, is the importance to the story of situated and embodied encounters. As the pressure compounds, the whale’s body decelerates in its fall, and putrefying gases build up in its softening tissues. 1). Butman, Carlton, and Palumbi, “Whaling Effects on Deep-Sea Biodiversity,” 463. }, author={Craig R Smith and Adrian G. Glover and Tina Treude and Nicholas D. Higgs and Diva J. Amon}, journal={Annual review of marine science}, year={2015}, … This is unlike in shallower waters, where a whale carcass will be consumed by scavengers over a relatively short period of time. In more recent work, Alaimo has discussed the contributions of unknown extinctions to the process of being put in suspension, or “under pressure.”84 Indeed discussing the very kinds of deep-sea extinctions I have begun to unpack here, she writes that “the not-yet-nor-never-to-be-discovered marine species that (must) have become extinct due to anthropogenic causes—which elude capture by human knowledge systems but nonetheless cannot elude the unintended effects of human actions—would be apt icons for the Anthropocene seas.”85 Imagined in particular ways, these “icons” could signal the ways that “human knowledge is not adequate to account for, nor certainly to ameliorate, the enormity of the effects of a geological epoch distinguished by anthropogenic consequences.”86 This challenge to fragmentation, with an emphasis on the transcorporeal connectivity that underpins the wide-ranging nature of these “unintended” effects, resonates with Rose’s skepticism of the types of thinking fostered by modernity. Read More Related Articles basin floor.”43 By 2003 Smith and Amy Baco were able to claim that “despite being one of the least-studied deep-sea reducing habitats, whale falls may harbour the highest levels of global species richness; thus far, 407 species are known from whale falls.”44 In the most recent review from 2015, Smith et al. It drifts past fish that no longer look like anything we might call fish, but bottled fireworks, reticulated rigging and musical instruments turned inside out. browser that Roman et al., “Whales as Marine Ecosystem Engineers.”, Springer et al., “Sequential Megafaunal Collapse in the North Pacific Ocean.”, Butman, Carlton, and Palumbi, “Whales Don’t Fall Like Snow.”. Would the massive depletion of whale populations have an effect on creatures living below? . Van Dooren and Rose, “Lively Ethography,” 82. States of Suspension: Trans-corporeality at Sea, ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, The Anthropocene at Sea: Temporality, Paradox, Compression, The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities, Encountering Leatherbacks in Multispecies Knots of Time, Extinction Studies: Stories of Time, Death, and Generations, Precarious Communities: Towards a Phenomenology of Extinction, Ontologies of Nature: Continental Perspectives and Environmental Reorientations, Whales Don’t Fall Like Snow: Reply to Jelmert, Extinction in a Distant Land: The Question of Elliot’s Bird of Paradise, Inundation, Extinction, and Lacustrine Lives, Marine researchers stumble upon a whale carcass during live-streamed deep-sea dive, Cultural Geographies of Extinction: Animal Culture among Scottish Ospreys, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Death, Absence, and Afterlife in the Garden, Walking with Ōkami, the Large-Mouthed Pure God, Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species, Endling, the Power of the Last in an Extinction-Prone World, Immortality and Infinitude in the Anthropocene, Presence of Absence, Absence of Presence, and Extinction Narratives, Nature, Temporality, and Environmental Management: Scandinavian and Australian Perspectives on Peoples and Landscapes, Conditions of Life at Great Depths in the Ocean, New Frontiers for Deep Fluids and Geobiology Research in the World’s Oldest Rocks, Ghost Species: Spectral Geographies of Biodiversity Conservation, The Importance of Absence in the Present: Practices of Remembrance and the Contestation of Absences, Beyond Biodiversity and Species: Problematizing Extinction, Decolonizing against Extinction Part II: Extinction Is Not a Metaphor—It Is Literally Genocide, Migrating Microbes and Planetary Protection, Connectivity Thinking, Animism, and the Pursuit of Liveliness, Writing Creates Ecology: Ecology Creates Writing, Val Plumwood’s Philosophical Animism: Attentive Interactions in the Sentient World, Unloved Others: Death of the Disregarded in the Time of Extinctions, Planetary Exploration in the Time of Astrobiology: Protecting against Biological Contamination, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bigger Is Better: The Role of Whales as Detritus in Marine Ecosystems, Ecology of Whale Falls at the Deep-Sea Floor, Oceanography and Marine Biology: An Annual Review, Whale-Fall Ecosystems: Recent Insights into Ecology, Paleoecology, and Evolution, A Metapopulation Model for Whale-Fall Specialists: The Largest Whales Are Essential to Prevent Species Extinctions, Dis(Appearance): Earth, Ethics and Apparently (In)Significant Others. We report the first evidence of a vestimentiferan tubeworm associated with a whale fall (Fig. Smith, Roman, and Nation, “A Metapopulation Model for Whale-Fall Specialists,” 2. Van Dooren and Rose, “Lively Ethography,” 90. Biologists have suggested that the mass removal of whale carcasses during recent centuries of whaling may have had devastating effects on these communities.11 However, knowledge of their unraveling remains speculative, for reasons I will explain below. She is editor in chief of Time and Society and an editor of Participatory Research in More-Than-Human Worlds. Smith, Roman, and Nation, “A Metapopulation Model for Whale-Fall Specialists.”. A whale fall is a phrase used to describe a cetacean's carcass that has settled in the abyssal or bathyal zone, that is, deeper than 3,300 feet in the ocean floor. Instead, groups such as the Canadian Sea Turtle Network, try to help their compatriots see leatherbacks as a “Canadian animal” to encourage feelings of responsibility, care and kinship.36. 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 . These dreams, providing paths into progressive futures point to the industrial-level removals whales! On raising awareness of the World, 20 ” 575 LENGTH 39–49ft DIET Krill with small amounts of and. 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2020 whale fall article