Author and artist Josie Iselin’s presentation this past Friday night was sheer joy! Iselin immersed her audience in the visually rapturous red and green hues of the Pacific and Atlantic’s kelp forests while also sounding the alarm about the fragility of our aquatic wildlife webs. Images from her new book, The Curious World of Seaweed brought the past and present together brilliantly; Iselin has overlaid luminous modern photographs of marine specimens atop archival 19th century botanical engravings creating a stunning but also urgent conversation about climate change in the intertidal zone and the impact of our actions on our natural resources. For example, she illustrated the dangerous trophic cascade that has come to pass with the mankind’s hunting of otters in previously balanced bull kelp habitats – the absence of these carnivores and others like the sunflower starfish has created an urchin barren and impoverished the kelp beds.
Josie’s visit was made all the more meaningful with several members of her family present. The Iselins are an exceptionally accomplished and civic minded branch of the Jay family. We owe Josie’s father the late John Jay Iselin immeasurable gratitude for his role in helping to preserve the Jay Estate.