Extraordinarily Hazardous

Fog, water, ice and human precarity in the aquapelagic assemblage of the Grand Banks (northwest Atlantic)


  • Philip R Hayward




This article examines the disruptive role that fog and associated weather conditions play in human livelihood activities undertaken on and around the Grand Banks of the north-western Atlantic, the affective atmosphere they create and their effect on human participants. After an introduction to the position and nature of the Grand Banks, relevant weather systems, ocean currents and iceberg trajectories through the region, the article profiles the nature of fishing (and, subsequently, oil extraction) in the area, of the precarity of livelihood activities undertaken and their reflection and inscription in various media. This approach identifies the manner in which aquapelagos (integrated terrestrial and marine systems) are not necessarily safe or stable entities – even in the shortest of terms – and can, indeed, represent assemblages in which humans are stressed and threatened. Within this, the case study examines the manner in which fog is not so much an uncomfortable intrusion into an otherwise manageable industrial operation as a key characteristic to be accommodated. The experience of fog is crucial to the social experience of the Grand Banks and of the aquapelago that is constituted around it. Substantial consideration is also given to the atmospherics of Grand Banks fog in literature and visual art and of the imaginative space created for it.

Author Biography

Philip R Hayward

Philip Hayward is an adjunct professor at University of Technology Sydney and a contracted researcher at Western Sydney University. He founded and continues to edit the journal Shima <www.shimajournal.org> and is a strategic advisor to the River Cities Network. He has published widely on island and oceanic topics. His current research involves the reimagination and reconceptualisation of waterways in urban contexts.