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The Herring Man and the Sargasso Sea

Environment, nature, TheHerringman -

The Herring Man and the Sargasso Sea

The Sargasso Sea is characterised by its golden brown floating sargassum seaweed. Located in the North Atlantic Ocean the Sargasso Sea is the only sea without a land boundary and is instead bounded by a series of rotating currents on all sides. This open-ocean ecosystem plays a crucial role, acting as a haven to a multitude of marine species, providing habitats, spawning areas, migration pathways and feeding grounds to a diverse range of flora and fauna.

The sargassum seaweed itself is holopelagic; never attaching to the seafloor during its lifecycle and instead matting together and creating floating seaweed beds. During early encounters with the sargassum, sailors feared that they would become entangled in the seaweed and dragged down to the depths of the ocean. These fears inspired many fantasy stories and became entrenched in the lore of the Sargasso Sea. The intrigue and beauty of the Sargasso is featured in modern day fable The Herring Man by Cyril James Morris.

 

A turtle swimming through the sargassum seaweed.
Photo Credit: Lindsay Martin, Sargasso Sea Commission 

 

"The Herring Man is a small but beautiful book that will linger long in your memory."  - Western Mail

A story of hope, dealing with grief and the importance of memory intertwined with the human connection to the ocean and the need for its conservation.

Gwyn Evans is the only living relative to tell the tales of the notable Herring Man. A sailor who travelled across the seas, sketching down his experiences and leaving his adventure stories as a legacy. However his grandson Gwyn now spends his days in silent isolation, fixing damaged fishing nets. Who will be left with the legacy of the Herring Man? 

An illustrated orange crab

When a young boy becomes interested in his broken boat and offers to help, Gwyn is given hope and begins to unravel the legacy of the adventure stories. 

 

 

And so he started, found his voice and softly told the room the very first tale he’d heard from his grandfather. The one about crossing one of the Seven Seas, the North Atlantic, through that magical place the Sargasso Sea where strange creatures never seen anywhere before crawled on floating seaweed. He said their black eyes blinked as they waved their antennae and claws at him as he sat at the tiller and slowly sailed past great rafts of coloured seaweeds in reds, yellows, greens, blues, pinks and browns. Like a miniature forest in autumn was how he’d described it. He’d had that way of saying things that conjured up the images so that they were easily re-membered. Could he do that? - Extract from The Herring Man 

 

The Sargasso Sea Commission was established to play a stewardship role over the Sargasso Sea and to promote the international recognition and the importance of it within our ecosystem. Biodiversity within the area has been threatened by human interference including fishing waste, ship noise pollution and climate change. 

In March 2014, governments of Azores, Bermuda, Monaco, the UK and the US came together to sign the Hamilton Declaration to "encourage and facilitate voluntary collaboration toward the conservation of the Sargasso Sea". 

The Sargasso Sea Scrolls, featuring artists drawings of the seaweed and marine life

Photo credit: Pyramid Atlantic 'The Sargasso Sea Scrolls'. Created to celebrate and mark the signing of the Hamilton Declaration, which established the commission in 2014. 

Parthian recognises the importance of intertwining creativity and culture in order to shine a spotlight on today's issues. So we were thrilled that the Sargasso Sea Commission reached out to include The Herring Man in their creative responses. 

The role of our oceans are vital to our climate and the role  and work of organisations like the Sargasso Sea Commission are so important to maintaining its biodiversity and longevity. 

Parthian HQ itself is situated on the fringes of Cardigan Bay, a diverse marine ecosystem including several large pods of bottlenose dolphins, and many other marine species. We are definitely a team of coastal walkers, wild swimmers and hobby fishermen. 

To learn more about the Sargasso Sea and the work of the Sargasso Sea Commission head over to their website.

The Herring Man by Cyril James Morris is available now! 

  


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