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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Queenscliff encounter seals it for local children’s author

A picture book story came to life for local author Diane Jackson Hill when a seal, complete with fish in mouth, burst out of the water in front of her at the Queenscliff Harbour.

Diane, whose children’s picture book ‘Saving Seal – the plastic predicament’ was released by Museums Victoria Publishing on October 1, was at the harbour with her granddaughter last month when the playful seal made its appearance.

“There I was, actually locking eyes with my fictional book character!”  Diane said.

Saving Seal is about a girl and her grandpa keeping watch over a friendly seal in their local bay. They rescue it each time it gets tangled in floating rubbish, and try to work out a plan to prevent it happening again and again.

“Thankfully, my own seal encounter resembled the happy end of the story,” Diane said.


Due to the growing concern about plastic waste in our ocean, Diane wanted to write a story about simple things children could do to reduce the use of plastic, and to help prevent it from being washed or blown into the ocean and injuring the animals that live there.

Dr Rebecca McIntosh, a marine scientist at Phillip Island Nature Parks, provided the link to these two ideas and is a member of a team that regularly visits seal colonies and resting places, such as Pope’s Eye in Port Phillip Bay, to rescue seals caught up in plastics and fishing gear.

“Seals present one of the more obvious issues with marine plastic pollution, because it is so visible and the injuries sustained can be awful,” Dr McIntosh said.

Saving Seal – the plastic predicament is the latest environmental picture-book collaboration between author Diane Jackson Hill and illustrator Craig Smith, who has evoked the Port Phillip Bay setting on each page by featuring relevant animal species and local landmarks.

Both author and illustrator are on the same page regarding the environment. As Craig says in the book’s acknowledgements, ‘We need to learn more about our environment. Take responsibility for a patch of it. Be in it, enjoy it and share it.’

Two previous books by Diane and Craig, Chooks in Dinner Suits (Museums Victoria Publishing) and Windcatcher (CSIRO), won Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Awards.

‘By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish!’ is the catch cry of many campaigns tackling ocean plastics. Saving Seal is a story about people working together to make the right choices, and about making them now.

Saving Seal is available online or at your favourite bookstore, with signed copies available at the Queenscliff Book Shop.

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