Halfway between New Zealand and the Antarctic, Campbell Island was once a manned weather station. Adventurous Meteorological staff signed up for a year, making observations and releasing weather balloons. We shared the island with many species of seal, penguin, and albatross. Scattered huts meant we could visit penguin colonies, watch southern right whales, or get up close and personal with albatross on our days off. Sea Lions were everywhere – often where they shouldn’t be.
I wrote A Southern Tale after discovering they had been put on the endangered list, and wanted to portray them as heroic, risking their lives every day for a meal. The fish, dolphins and sharks in the book are generic, and designed to be recognisable to children, but other animals are species specific, and their conservation status is listed in the back. That it demonstrates the food chain was a happy accident.
Sadly, climate change and modern fishing practices are proving very challenging for the wildlife of the Southern Ocean.