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Accepted Paper:

The polyrhythmic bay: seabirds and socio-ecological futures in Morecambe bay  
Catherine Oliver (Lancaster University)

Short abstract:

On Morecambe Bay, seabirds are an intimate part of socio-ecological life. This paper draws on more-than-human ethnographies to explore how seabirds, the people who watch them, and the ecology itself produce a “polyrhythmic bay.”

Long abstract:

Two decades ago, Morecambe Bay in the northwest of England was described by ecologist JB Whittaker as a “laboratory for climate change”. Its rich and diverse landscapes serve as critically important ecological habitats. Morecambe Bay is the largest intertidal zone in Britain, covering 310km2 and the twice-daily retreat of the tide reveals sands crammed with worms, crustaceans, and shellfish. Each year, this tide is followed by a quarter of a million birds who feed and rest there, making it one of the most important sites for migrating seabirds in Europe.

Morecambe – one of the major towns on the Bay – is a quintessential ‘left behind’ British seaside town of whirring arcades, fish and chips, and faded fortunes … and seagulls. Social, environmental and climate change has disturbed the rhythms of the Bay, its humans and its seabirds, leaving the Bay distinctly out-of-time.

Drawing on more-than-human ethnographic research with the Bay, its humans and its seabirds, I conceptualise the Bay as a system of organic and technological ‘polyrhythmic arrangements’ (Pokorný, 2021). In doing so, I explore how layered and networked social, environmental, and avian rhythms provide insight into the temporalities and spatialities of climate change as a more-than-human experience, and ask what this means for the Bay’s futures.

Traditional Open Panel P071
Seabirds
  Session 1 Wednesday 17 July, 2024, -