Torrence Harder Annual Endowed Lecture: The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, An Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey
with Deborah Cramer
Each year tiny sandpipers—red knots—undertake a near miraculous 19,000 mile journey from one end of the earth to the other and back. In this firsthand account, Deborah Cramer accompanies them on their extraordinary odyssey along the length of two continents, tracking birds from remote Tierra del Fuego to the icy Arctic. On the full moon of spring’s highest tides, she seeks out horseshoe crabs, ancient, primordial animals whose eggs are essential to migrating shorebirds, and whose blue blood, unbeknownst to most people, safeguards human health. The Narrow Edge offers unique insight into how the lives of humans, red knots and horseshoe crabs are intertwined, and is an inspiring portrait of loss and resilience, of the tenacity of birds, and the courage of the many people who bird by bird and beach by beach, keep red knots flying.
Deborah Cramer lives with her family at the edge of a salt marsh in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where each year she awaits the arrival of horseshoe crabs and alewives in tidal creeks, and the passage of migrating sandpipers and herons. She writes about science, nature, and the environment.
Cramer has written three books, Great Waters: An Atlantic Passage, Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water Our World, and The Narrow Edge: A Tiny Bird, an Ancient Crab, and an Epic Journey. The Narrow Edge received the Best Book Award from the National Academies of Science, the Rachel Carson Book Award from the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Reed Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center, and was designated a “must read” by the Massachusetts Book Award. The Narrow Edge has now been translated into Spanish and Chinese.
Cramer was awarded an Audubon A from the Massachusetts Audubon Society, “recognizing exceptional action on behalf of the living environment,” and has been named by the Sierra Club as an outstanding contemporary writer “whose words can make us reconsider or better appreciate our relationship to the natural world.” Her works have also appeared in The New York Times, NPR, and Audubon. She is a Visiting Scholar at the Environmental Solutions Initiative at MIT.