Adriaen Coenen's Fish Book (1580)
This research examines an interspecies confluence in the context of the River Thames and its estuarine environment. We have focused on the role oceanic trade has played on the estuary, and examined how its infrastructure acts as a transportation mechanism and node of global connection. Referring specifically to the presence of the Chinese Mitten Crab, a species endemic to China, we have traced how it established itself in the river through accidental introductions connected with Global shipping. Transported through ballast water exchange, the species' arrival and subsequent abundance highlight the unplanned spaces that are tied to, and occupy global logistics and capital flows.
We first present an archive of materials that show the history of Ballast Water as an integral mechanism in global shipping and logistics. Its technologies, architectures, governance structures, and legal frameworks have developed over the 20th Century in order to manage new international currents of water and the species carried with these flows.
Further on, we present material tracing the history of the species - the Chinese Mitten Crab - and its introduction in UK water systems. It is thought to have arrived by ballast water in the River Thames during the first half of the 20th Century. Today it is a thriving species in the river. Recognising this, our research points towards how to imagine alternative futures that acknowledge these negative spaces, entangled within logistics, finance and changing ecosystems. It also considers how to acknowledge the River Thames, and all riverine systems, as complex hydro-social agents, that constantly move material, capital and ecological relations beyond their watersheds, and displace previous nature-culture ideologies in the process.
Agnes Catlow, Drops of Water: Their Marvellous and Beautiful Inhabitants Displayed by the Microscope (London: Reeve and Benham, 1851)
Canary Wharf swans