“Imaginaries” describe the deep ontological frameworks that shape how humans collectively and commonly conceive of and respond to fundamental cosmological ideas such as how space, earth and the oceans are structured and function. The planet’s oceans have long suffered by being seen as immeasurably mysterious, vast and bountiful, and thus invulnerable to the finite limits of human-generated environmental problems such as resource exhaustion, ecosystem disturbance and pollution. Fantasy, fable and ignorance continue to influence our capacity to imagine, relate to, and protect the world’s oceans.
Our environmental work on ocean imaginaries began with collaborations between SEI and the University of Sydney’s Macleay Museum to undertake ethnographic and environmental explorations of the complex and threatened marine and maritime cultures of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders based on spiritual, cultural and ecological relations with the oceans and their inhabitants.
Brian Gratwicke_FlickrCommons_Mangrove propagules, GBR