Ecological Ruin, Refuge and the Transient Return of Wild Flamingos to Florida

Authors: Aurora Fredriksen*, University of Manchester - Manchester
Topics: Animal Geographies, Environment, Cultural Geography
Keywords: Ecological ruin, ecological refiguration, transience, the Anthropocene
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Directors Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the spring of 2006 wild flamingos returned to Florida, though not to the places their kind had inhabited a hundred years and more ago at the southern edge of the Everglades and the Florida Keys. Instead this group of flamingos alighted 80 miles northward in Palm Beach County’s Stormwater Treatment Area 2 (STA-2), a human-made facility for filtering anthropogenic pollutants from storm runoff. This paper takes the reappearance of wild flamingos in Florida and their seasonal departures and returns to STA-2 each year as a case for thinking through ecological loss and refiguration in the Anthropocene. In the shifting ecologies of Florida, where places for wildlife are fast diminishing – paved over by suburban sprawl, cleared for agriculture, poisoned by pollution, and eroded or salinized by rising seas – stormwater treatment areas, despite their high levels of agricultural pollutants, have become refuges for wading birds of many types. This paper argues that in their transient, uncertain return to these ambiguous spaces of late capitalist refuse and refuge, the STA-2 flamingos make visible a wider series of entangled, past and present, near and distant, ecological ruinations.

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