Turtle swimming over a shallow reef

Oceanic narratives: interweaving past, present and future

Explore the history, science, and beauty of the natural world with Australian author James Bradley.

The ocean holds a vast space of meaning and connections. It has shaped and sustained life on earth for billions of years, nurturing the evolution of species, fostering a deep connection with Indigenous cultures, witnessing the devastation of colonial exploration, and suffering the consequences of extractivist expansion.

James Bradley’s latest book, Deep Waterjoins new scholarship that reckons with humanity’s complex relationship to the natural world. Through the lens and narratives of the ocean, it offers vital new ways of understanding and being in the world, and how we anticipate our climate future.

Hear James Bradley expand on these ideas alongside Maria Byrne, Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Sydney and world expert on echinoderms; Tishiko King, proud Zenadth Kes/Torres Strait Island woman, marine biologist and climate campaigner; with Guardian Australia’s Helen Sullivan, who hosts this event.

Join us for an evening of expansive conversation delving into the stories, beauty and mysteries of the deep sea and life through time.

This event was presented with Sydney Ideas.

Oceanic narratives: Interweaving past, present and future


Dr James Bradley OAM, writer, critic and author of Deep Water

James Bradley is an author and critic. His books include Deep Water (2024), the novels Wrack (1997), The Deep Field (1999), The Resurrectionist (2006), Clade (2015) and Ghost Species (2020), a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus (1994) and The Penguin Book of the Ocean. His books have won or been shortlisted for many major Australian and international literary awards, and in 2012 he won the Pascall Prize for Australia’s Critic of the Year. His essays and articles have appeared in The MonthlyThe GuardianSydney Review of BooksMeanjinGriffith ReviewCosmosLos Angeles Review of Books and more. James is an Honorary Associate of the Sydney Environment Institute.

Professor Maria Byrne, marine biologist at the University of Sydney

Maria Byrne is Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Sydney. Her research on the impacts of environmental stressors on marine species with a focus on the impacts of climate change across latitudes is generating crucial findings on species’ vulnerabilities and resilience for management and conservation. The overarching goal is to determine the ecologically and economically important species that may be resilient to changing climate. Her research on the complex interactions between stressors across life stages and species groups is influential. Recent research on the impacts of marine heatwaves shows that warming is the contemporary stressor of greatest concern, including work with the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce and investigation of species’ poleward range extension.

Maria is world expert on echinoderms (sea urchins, the crown of thorns starfish, beche de mer sea cucumbers) and her research on these species is providing key findings to address the challenge for their management. In long standing research her work on closely related species with contrasting modes of development is providing breakthroughs on the molecular mechanisms underlying developmental change, generation of evolutionary novelty and speciation in the sea.

Tishiko King, scientist and climate campaigner

Tishiko King is a proud Kulkalaig woman from the Island of Masig and Badugal of Themu Clan in the Torres Straits and is a Ocean & Climate Advocate. In addition to her advocacy in climate, Tish works with the Philanthropic sector to redistribute wealth back into First Nations communities for economic justice and self-determination. Based in Naarm/Melbourne, Tish is spirited about sharing culture and amplifying social inequality and the rights of First Nations people. With studies in Ocean Science, lived experiences in the mineral and exploration industry, Tish continues to be a part of grassroots organisations, supporting the Our Islands Our Home campaign led by Torres Strait Island people and plays a role in advocating for Torres Strait Island Climate Justice.

Collaboratively working with like minded folks to shift the dial, Tish is a member of the Australian Museum Climate Solutions Centre Advisory Group and current Board Director for Divers for Climate.

Helen Sullivan (Chair), columnist and world news reporter at The Guardian

Helen's writing has appeared in the New Yorker, London Review of Books, New York Times and the Guardian, where she is a reporter on the international desk, and columnist on the weird animal desk. She has been shortlisted for the Bragg Prize for Science Writing three times and her work has appeared in four of the Best Australian Science Writing anthologies. In 2023 she profiled Helen Garner for the New Yorker. She is writing a memoir for Scribner Australia.

Header image: Shutterstock ID 549525676

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