(A version of this post was first published on the Sustainability Next blog.)
What do you notice when you go to the seashore?
If you are like me, you probably dig around in the sand, collect the shells, play in waves, admire the sunrise or sunset and skirt the tiny crabs scurrying around on the sand.
If you are a little more observant, you may notice the nature of the waves, the direction of the current, maybe the texture of the sand and the gradient of the shore.
You enjoy the cool breeze and hope that no construction of bridges or ports spoil your view.
Shorewalk by Yuvan Aves will completely upend your beach visits, and leave you wondering if you have ever truly experienced the seashore, making each visit a learning experience as you look at the coast with new eyes.
Have you wondered why your feet sometimes sink into the sand when you walk the shore?
Did you know that ghost crabs are the beach clean up squad?
Or when they chuck sand far away when digging a burrow, the weather will be calm?
Or what poses the biggest threat to these little scavengers?
Why were some coastal villages devastatingly affected by the 2004 tsunami, while others along the same coast hardly affected?
Do ports and harbours truly mean progress? What is progress if the fallout from their construction threatens our living space?
Yuvan’s words paint an atmospheric picture, while his photographs enhance our experience of this book as he narrates the story of little Kadalamma, (named after the ‘ocean mother’), who loves to walk on the beach with her grandfather Palayam. Palayam is a font of knowledge. A former fisherman, he is the keeper of traditional knowledge, a science learnt from living closely with the coastal ecosystems. From knowing which kind of current will bring in which fish, to how the height of the ocean or the sort of wind that is blowing will affect what is thrown up on the beach.
We see the sea shore in all its glory, through their eyes. The shore is filled with drama and intrigue. Mysterious and fascinating.
Yet, ‘Shorewalk’ deftly guides us through this simple storyline with detailed facts which are neatly outlined on the right third of every spread.
Alerts at the right corner draw our attention to the dangers that climate change poses and how an imbalance in coastal ecosystems can affect other habitats too.
While Shorewalk by Yuvan Aves is a veritable encyclopedia of all things sea shore, from the people, the wisdom in their traditional practices…so in tune with nature, to the sea…the tides, the currents, the depths; to the sea life, the beach life, the effect of climate change on the coastal ecosystems, and the the role of these ecosystems in keeping all other habitats in balance…it is also a call to reflect on how our actions may affect these delicate sea side ecosystems, alerting us to the negative impact it can have on others and human life in general.
This is a book that you will want to tuck into your beach bag, to refer to as you begin to notice not just the sea and beach creatures but also the interactions and beneficial relationships between them, the waves, tides, the winds, beach plants, appreciate the wisdom of the fisher folk and the reasoning behind why we need to protect our coastal ecosystems.
A book to explore, learn and discover with. A must have on every 8 plus’ bookshelf, child or adult.
You can buy this book directly from the publisher Tulika Books, here.