Saltwater Library logo design by Amelia Hine

For many months, the Moving Oceans team have been working on a podcast project, Saltwater Library. The podcast is a way to share the work of Moving Oceans with people who are interested in human-ocean health and wellbeing and in the kinds of relationships we build with coasts and oceans though sport and physical activities.

Today is the day that it launches, and we release the Saltwater Library: Introduction out into the world. You can listen to it here, and you will be able subscribe to the podcast via all the usual streaming services.

Each episode features an interview with a researcher, writer, scientist, or activist who is working to take better care of coasts and oceans. Some of them are people whose work I’ve followed for years, others I met while producing this series, but all of them are people I respect and whose work has impacted my own. Other than a love of beaches and saltwater, what ties these discussions together is the role of sport and physical activities in how we learn about and feel connected to coastal and ocean ecologies. Swimming, surfing, sailing, snorkelling, fishing, and beach walking all feature in our discussions about love, consumption practices, pollution, literature, colonisation and more.

I conceived of Saltwater Library as a way to share the kinds of conversations I’m able to have through my work with the people I swim and surf and sail with. For those of us worried about the health and wellbeing of coasts and oceans, each episode is meant to offer insights into the various ways that people are trying to change things for the better. For communication to coastal management to education to changing our consumption practices, there is much we do to do better. At the core of these discussions is the idea that in every place in our lives, people are part of ecologies, not separate from them, and so we need to think more carefully about how our health and wellbeing is intertwined with the multispecies communities we live with.

This is my first time making a podcast, and I’ve not worked with audio recordings in this way in many, many years. As I listen, I can hear how I approached the discussion more as a researcher than a radio producer, and so some of the audio quality is quite… rustic. There are there are failed mics, table scrapes and bird coos, and there are even lawnmowers! All of that is because in amongst the lockdowns and border closures, I grabbed the moments I could to record these conversations.

Lucky for me, Hannah Reardon-Smith worked her magic on editing the recordings to make them all as easy to listen to as possible. Hannah is a marvel, and I appreciate their work on this project so much. All and any lovely sound quality is all down to Hannah’s work. The shanty-inspired theme music is also an original improvisation by Hannah’s musical alter-ego, cyberBanshee. The colours, tiles and visual components of Saltwater Library come from the design skills of Amelia Hine. Veering away from obvious blue, Amelia’s design reflects the greens that I have more commonly found in my fieldwork. These greens were echoed by Alex Norman from alnmakes in the website design as well. I feel so lucky to have worked with people whose feminist, queer, ecological, and anti-colonial politics underpinned the production, music and design aspects of Saltwater Library. Saltwater Library is so, so, so much better for their contributions and I’ll never be able to thank them enough for their patience, advice and support. You can read more about their work in the Team part of the website.

Saltwater Library is funded by the Australian Research Council, with additional production funding from The University of Queensland, and promotion support from RMIT University. I’m very grateful to them all.

I’m really proud of what we’ve made, and I’m excited to share these conversations over the coming months.

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