688: Sabrina Imbler: My Life in Sea Creatures

A queer, mixed-race writer working in a largely white, male field, science and conservation journalist Sabrina Imbler has always been drawn to the mystery of life in the sea, and particularly to creatures living in hostile or remote environments. Each essay in their debut collection profiles one such creature: the female octopus who starves herself while watching over her eggs, the Chinese sturgeon whose migration route has been decimated by pollution and dams, the terrifying Bobbitt worm (named after Lorena) and other uncanny creatures lurking in the “midnight zone” of the ocean, far below where the light reaches. Fusing genres to create a new kind of essay, Imbler’s debut collection weaves the wonders of marine biology with stories of their own family and coming of age, implicitly connecting endangered sea life to marginalized human communities and asking how they and we adapt, survive, and care for each other.

“…I grow up inhabiting my body instead of feeling like a ghost driving a stolen meat suit – my little tentacles stretching, stretching out into the neglected spaces of myself, grabbing hold, finally making myself whole…”

Sabrina Imbler “My Life in Sea Creatures”. With illustrations by Simon Ban. Published by Chatto & Windus in 2022. Donated to the Sea Library by Amelia Hodsdon from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire (western England) ❤️ “The writer is so good at conveying the wonders – and ordinariness – of the beings in the sea,” she writes in an added postcard.

Photos by Anna Iltnere / Sea Library

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