The Hobart

Marine Scientist Annie Ford

by Hobart Magazine
Marine Scientist Annie Ford

Tasmanian Annie Ford is a marine scientist who is currently riding her bike a distance of 4000km from here to Queensland to raise awareness of seismic blasting and support a Tassie-made film about the practice.

By riding instead of driving or flying, Annie will save 800kgs of carbon emissions. Starting in Cockle Creek in September and heading to Noosa before finishing at Byron Bay on 30 November, Annie took some time to rest her legs and tell us about her adventure.

Why did you want to do this ride? The largest 3D marine seismic blasting project proposed on earth (ever!) is currently proposed directly off Tasmania. Seismic emits one of the loudest man-made noises on earth into the ocean every 10 seconds, and is known to displace, injure and kill marine life – from zooplankton to whales. Surfrider Australia are touring a film Southern Blast, which tells the story about this seismic blasting project, the communities it affects, and what we can do about it. The entire film was made in stunning Tasmania. The film tour travels through Tasmania and up the Australian east coast so I decided to ride the film tour instead of driving or flying to each tour destination. I’ve been called crazy more times than I could count because of that decision! Worth it.

Where did the idea come from? A really simple way to end seismic blasting in our oceans is to reduce our demand on fossil fuels – and an obvious choice for me is transport. My biggest learning recently is that the funnest and most sustainable way to make real change is to combine 1) climate action and 2) what I enjoy doing. I decided to ride instead of drive or fly the tour because I genuinely LOVE riding. This ride has enabled me to have an unforgettable time sharing knowledge, ride through beautiful places, and meet locals from all walks of life. It’s so good, it doesn’t seem real! We all have opportunities and varying capacities to reduce our environmental impact, whether it’s eliminating plastic, writing to your local MP, or riding instead of driving.

Behind the scenes of Southern Blast

What did you do to prepare for the trip? Logistically, preparation was easy given the team at Surfrider have been incredibly supportive and they’re carrying a lot of my extra gear. To prepare myself physically, I was riding 7-10 hours a week beforehand given my legs were a little unfit after a chilly winter. I’m also very fortunate to have organised an efficient bike for the trip – a Santa Cruz Stigmata kitted out with SRAM gear. Far faster than I’m accustomed to travelling on my usual mountain bike!

What’s surprised you on the trip so far? So much! The most fulfilling surprise has been witnessing the response from film screenings. People have been wonderfully engaged, energised, and want to help us end seismic. It’s so inspiring to see. I’m also amazed by Tasmania! After calling it home for over 30 years, I thought I knew it well. Riding through backcountry, in the highlands and through coastal communities has blown my mind. We live in an exceptionally beautiful part of the world with such connected and helpful communities.

What do you love about Tassie? It’s so hard to describe in a few sentences but I’ll try! Here, the oceans circumnavigate the planet before touching our coastlines. Air currents travel thousands of kilometres over the sea before reaching land. These winds generate groundswells that create world renowned surf and unique coastlines. It’s wild, rugged and precious – from rugged mountains to the white sands of the east coast. I just love this place. If you exist down here, you are part of the environment, you are not separate from it – and I think that’s what makes people so energised to stand up for it, and protect it. I was born in Tasmania, and grew up in the lovely town of Cygnet. The more I travel, the greater my gratitude for being raised on this little heart shaped island at the end of the earth. It has me, and it’ll always be home.

What message would you like to give to Tasmanians? It’s so important to use your very valuable voice to call and write to your local politicians. Surfrider and Ben and Jerry’s websites have a brilliant letter writing tool – it only takes 45 seconds to send a letter to your MP. Sharing this information with others, and taking the emotion of this injustice and letting our leaders be aware of what you want, is crucial – given they’re there to represent you. Tasmanian communities are at the frontline of this seismic blasting project, and can have a powerful say against it. Side screenings of Southern Blast will be held throughout Tassie, so come along to a screening to learn more!

What are you most looking forward to doing when you’re done? A leg massage! And definitely getting this giant seismic blasting proposal cancelled!

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May 2024

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