‘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.’
Spring Tides is the story of how marine biologist Dr Fiona returned to her childhood home of Ramsey Bay on the Isle of Man, after 12 years away studying marine life. She had grown up on the island in a traditional fishing family and developed a lifelong love of the sea and Manx culture. On her return she led a three-year-long struggle to protect Ramsey Bay as the very first Marine Nature Reserve, and raised a young son on the island. Together they explored the coast and coves of the island, spotting basking sharks, discovering eelgrass forests and combing the beach for mermaid’s purses and whelks’ eggs. With scientific insight and spellbinding prose she perfectly captures the wonder of island life, the transformative power of the sea, and the importance of protecting it for future generations.