- Isle of Man - Natural History
- Spring Tides by Fiona Gell
Spring Tides by Fiona Gell
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Published May 2023, paperback
A beautiful memoir of the sea, island life, and a battle to preserve the marine habitats of the Isle of Man, by marine biologist and poet Dr Fiona Gell.
Dr Fiona Gell has a PhD in marine conservation and over 20 years' experience working as a marine biologist. She grew up on the Isle of Man and still lives on the island with her husband and young son. She is also a published poet.
'This is my earliest memory. I am three years old and I sit in the bottom of my great-uncle's pot boat and take off the bands from the lobsters' claws. The deepest of blues, they creak over the bilges with robotic limbs towards my father's bare feet as he rows. Over the scent of the herring bait I can smell the fresh, sweet smell of wrack on the shore. This book has come out of over twenty years of studying the sea and trying to protect it, and a lifetime of loving our other world beneath waves. The sea is my work and my passion. I have been its advocate in situations where I must be reasoned, considered and evidence-based. But, I am also seduced and obsessed by the infinite diversity of the sea, its breath-stopping beauty and capacity for surprise. I
have stood frozen in primitive fear as a basking shark, its granite skin dappled by sunlight, looms under the boat for long seconds. I have dived on our cold water horse mussel reefs, where the queen scallops are encrusted in golden sponges and the crimson squat lobsters wave their claws in the current, laughing with delight into my regulator. I have breathed deep on the bow of a scallop dredger in the twilight before dawn as we make our way to the fishing grounds, the crew on the deck smoking in silence as the sun begins to rise out of the dark, silver sea.'
In Spring Tides, marine biologist Fiona Gell tells the story of a pioneering project to create the very first marine nature reserve on the Isle of Man. Growing up in a traditional fishing family on the island, Fiona spent her time on her grandfather's boat, listening to stories from the local fishermen and combing the beach for mermaid's purses and whelks' eggs. She developed a lifelong love of the sea and Manx culture, and on her return to the island after twelve years away studying marine life, she led a three-year-long struggle to protect an area called Ramsey Bay and the precious emerald green eelgrass forests which grew there. With scientific insight and spellbinding prose she perfectly captures the wonder of island life, from the intricate beauty of bright pink maerl, to the enormity of giant basking sharks spotted off the cliffs of the bay. This beautiful story from a small island reveals the transformative power of the sea, and the importance of protecting it for future generations.
'A stunning book, exquisitely written and all of it observed with enormous compassion for the natural world. Every page of Spring Tides gives the reader everything they want: poetry, knowledge, bejewelled specifics of the ocean and its creatures. As we read, we grow richer, too. You will fall in love with this book, treasure it, and keep it somewhere safe. A book for our time.' - Monique Roffey, author of The Mermaid of Black Conch, Costa Book of the Year 2020
'I loved Spring Tides. Seeding hope and wonder for future generations is a courageous calling and this is a beautifully-crafted triumph. The interweaving of motherhood with marine science, climate and the immeasurable pleasures of our own seashores is a pure delight. Please read this book!' - Nicholas Crane, author of The Making of the British Landscape
'Insightful and brimming with marvels, this story of one woman's love of an island opens a window to our entire ocean, why it matters and how to protect it. At a time when the rampant decline of nature can feel overwhelming, Gell offers a reasoned and much-needed ray of hope, showing that it is possible to safeguard livelihoods and the ocean's living treasures, and that it doesn't have to be a choice between the two.' - Helen Scales, author of The Brilliant Abyss and What a Shell Can Tell