Niche Oceanographers

Navigating personal and ecological crises in diaristic interludes, a surfer tangles with the turbulence and wonderment of going out to sea.

small shaped waves photo with purple overlay

The open ocean changed my life.

Leaning to the water, song spilling out of my mouth, have u ever been / more present. An endless horizon, ten different kinds of sunsets, a tide line and a flying fish. Staring silently into the waves, watching the moon, clouds, stars, water, sargassum, the patches getting bigger farther northeast. Cerulean flex / this means the world to me. Gulf stream, three pieces of plastic, ego death.

Circulatory / vector

a look into the sargasso sea

Many people hoped the sunflower stars were taking refuge in the deep water. That they were dwelling in the benthic zone, like the cold-water corals that live in the Cordell Bank off of the coast of California.

i don’t feel unsafe, just kinda untethered
bc my tether is asleep

“is my heart in it?” my heart’s not
in anything but my sock

Somewhere between Greenland and Scotland, rather than in the Labrador Sea off Turtle Island as expected

If you go barefoot in wet for four days you may end up feeling like I do, a waterlogged turtle padding around on a hard surface

Atlantic meridional overturning current / turns over / contaminants bound for the Arctic


small shaped waves photo with purple overlay


Teflon in dental floss
pthalates in sanitary pads
DDT used for malaria control that causes breast cancer

You know it’s gonna be a day when you can’t feel your hands before you even paddle out

practice makes practice

have i gotten weaker or has the sun gotten stronger?

i swear 2 the dogs i’m tough

i’d love to stop asking dumb questions

“Calculating the emissions from 0.54% of the wealthiest of the global population, according to our estimates, results in cumulative emissions equal to 3.9 billion tCO2e per year. This is equivalent to 13.6% of total lifestyle-related carbon emissions. In comparison, the world’s poorest 50% are responsible for about 10% of lifestyle consumption emissions.”
Otto et al. (2019)

these last 2 weeks have been a window

it’s a whole lot of back and forth and it feels obvious

“Policymakers have severely underestimated the risks of ecological tipping points […] a study […] shows 45% of all potential environmental collapses are interrelated and could amplify one another.”
Jonathan Watts (2018)

small shaped waves photo with purple overlay

is there anything better than swimming naked in a moderately warm ocean out to a tiny dock where u are the only one sunbathing, looking down at the water, your hands in it, and out at the horizon, a buoy, ships passing

House bill 1593, underwritten by Koch Industries, says nothing more than: “To repeal the corporate average fuel economy standards.”
Hiroko Tabuchi (2019)

Since 2009, Dow Chemical and the American Chemistry Council have spent $14 million and $5–13 million U.S. annually, respectively, lobbying to NOT regulate plastics

Ted Cruz tops the list of oil & gas beneficiaries in U.S. politics

Hello, oil industry’s patriarchal violence

Hello, brittle stars tripoding

A quick look at the ocean floor. Lifetime piling up. Plastic after plastic, marine snow.      Whose bodies? / sink into a space of closeness

Hello quick displacement of water shelf from Antarctica

I’m crying on a bridge across a sound again

it’s impossible to think that a life could just stop.
or that a certain series of receptors could cease to register

i don’t have any problems with the bus

i always do the most walking on the least sleep

i’ve never been afraid in the ocean

small shaped waves photo with purple overlay

bumblebees in heather
honeybees in heather
me & my expectations
my wants & my conditions
the weirdness of taking it easy

drinking and bathing
bathing and drinking
i’m sort of the buoy

the AAA conductor asks
are you in a safe place
grief throws a curve ball
chum bucket

toxic masculinity bender

stuck my finger in my belly button &
then in the ice tray
some things are too hard to look at
lots of things are too hard to look at

i hate that i accidentally made a preemptive altar
took the lid off the bathtub
a hook showed up exactly where i needed it
adventures of big hook and little hook
i hold on to the ceiling

hopskrynklat krypin

insider waveriding

that note about my tether being asleep

watering the earth with a can of coors light & other rituals

det är inte alla bilder som är intressanta

what’s a chemical

“[S]cientists have found that tiny shrimp inhabiting the vast, remote depths of the Mariana Trench are loaded with toxic polychlorinated biphenyl—or PCBs—and brominated flame retardants at levels comparable to the world’s contaminated industrialized regions.”
Joanna Immig and Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith (2019)

“The idea of safe levels is based on the notion there is endless capacity for all pollution to be diluted. But you can’t keep adding persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals to a finite body of water and expect it to simply disappear. Pollutants interact and concentrate, some never break down and many end up at the top of the food chain in apex animals such as orcas and sharks.”
Joanna Immig and Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith (2019)

pollutants like nurdles
pollutants like birth control
pollutants like toothbrushes
pollutants like entire shipping containers full of garfield telephones
pollutants like bunker fuel
pollutants like rocket fuel
pollutants like fallout from united states nuclear testing on bikini atoll

“Fluorocarbons matured in the churn of the Second World War, transforming from laboratory chemicals into mass-produced materials in a matter of years. After the war, fluorocarbons became the silent enablers of the 20th century’s greatest technological achievements—the bomb and also Teflon, the stuff of convenience cookware, spaceflight and implantable medical devices. Today, these fluorocarbons persist as legacy chemicals prevalent in water systems serving hundreds of millions of people around the world. So extreme is their persistence that science has yet to determine an environmental half-life—the point at which the environmental load would otherwise halve.”
Rebecca Altman (2019)

no more orca babies
failures of regulatory bodies

what’s a background

small shaped waves photo with purple overlay

crying at the polar conference

not so much going into archives as coming out of them

oh nothing just carrying some rocks around again

i’m not sure i can make it to the river

i dropped off the face of the earth

a friend asks how r u i say i’m a mess & my text doesn’t go thru

i’ve been throwing surfboards in the dump and surfing with a moon jelly and my hair smells like fire just from being in california

it’s like having the flu for ten months straight

“it’s just an anxiety response,” i say
it doesn’t make me or my existence any less anxious

i take time
like the 6 to 8 hours it takes the ocean to come back to reality after a major storm

arbetar baklänges
cease to be part of the picture

small shaped waves photo with purple overlay

Another day, another premonition

trying to look into the ocean
with no sense of scale

consumption as death

no cities
no gulls

albedo effect

ebb and flow

i know myself well enough to know
i won’t take a nap

plastic supply chain lifestyle

spontaneously polymerised

the earth’s story shell

the ocean is the most lucid sociologist

A hole or a box

you don’t get to see my good outfit because i spilled a vitamin c supplement on it and the ants came for it

grief, like time, isn’t linear

like climate change isn’t linear

like a pandemic isn’t linear

As usual things took an unexpected turn

i tried to become a person who didn’t carry a backpack
i bought a jacket with many and effective pockets
i purchased a small leather handbag with a propensity to open itself at a secondhand store and left it on the shoulder of a friend

everywhere i went i kept needing to carry a loaf of bread
or a 6-pack
or a hat and t-shirt someone had forgotten after renovating our friends’ apartment

Nothing gets easier

A country is like any other fiction. Contaminants cross borders via streams via rivers via the grasshopper effect that literally sends them leaping from the Earth’s surface into the atmosphere in the directions of the poles until they wind up concentrated in the polar regions. Lock me in a box and tell me I’m not worth it. A container or a sinking ship / stalled outside the Port of Long Beach.

i still have my mourning pants on
counting much nylon is in them

i needed to feel like things were possible

According to the national policy resource center Good Jobs First’s Subsidy Tracker, DowDuPont has received $2,341,963,319 dollars in U.S. government subsidies since 2000.

The U.S. military is the world’s biggest polluter.

“[T]he U.S., which has conducted more nuclear weapons tests than all other nations combined, is […] responsible for the massive amount of radiation that continues to contaminate many islands in the Pacific Ocean […] Inhabitants of the Marshall Islands and nearby Guam continue to experience an exceedingly high rate of cancer.”
Whitney Webb (2019)

My knowledge is just a system I got tangled up in
The cumulation of everything everyone I’ve ever known has given me

lagoons overflow into the ocean

Maya Weeks is a writer, artist, and geographer living and working on unceded Chumash land.