Calling Pacific Rim Amateur Radio Operators!


The Radio and Electronics Association of Southern Tasmania Inc. have been approached by Abbie Calvert who is doing her University of Tasmania Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours project entitled

“Transmitting Memories of Tasmania’s Short-Tailed Shearwaters along their Migratory Path via Shortwave Radio”

Short-tailed shearwaters (Ardenna tenuirostris) are abundant migratory seabirds who breed at 209 rookeries in Tasmania (Australia) from November to April. Over the breeding season, the birds feed on krill foraged at the Antarctic Polar Front, using patterns in the wind and ocean currents to locate their prey. From May to September, the birds migrate 15,000kms to the Aleutian Islands to feed on krill in the Bering Sea (Birdlife Australia 2022). The short-tailed shearwaters follow a figure eight path every year; passing by the coasts of Japan, Russia, Alaska and California along the way.
However, recent climate-related shifts in the oceanography have made these long migrations increasingly difficult for the shearwaters to undertake, as marine heatwaves have displaced the krill the birds feed on (Bool 2018; Glencross et al. 2021). Consequently, two mass mortality events have occurred in 2014 and 2019, with millions of starved shearwaters washing up on beaches along their migratory route in Alaska and Australia (Readfearn 2019; National Park Service 2019; CSIRO 2021).

Abbie is a Tasmanian sound artist completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours at the University of Tasmania. While Abbie was growing up, there was a shearwater rookery nearby her childhood home and she has many memories of the birds leaving and returning from their migration every year. As part of Abbie’s studies, she is completing a creative project that responds to the mass mortality events of Tasmania’s short-tailed shearwaters.

For this project, Abbie would like to broadcast a pre-recorded story (of childhood memories of the short-tailed shearwaters returning to their rookery each Spring) to various locations along their migratory path. The spoken-word story is 22 minutes in duration. Abbie is interested in creating a sound installation from a voice recording that has traveled the distance of the shearwaters’ migration.

With the support of the Radio and Electronics Association of Southern Tasmania (REAST), Abbie is calling out to shortwave radio amateurs located in Japan, the north-east of Russia, Alaska and California who may be interested in collaboratively transmitting a voice recording along the migratory path of the shearwaters. This will involve:

  • At an arranged time, receiving and recording a shortwave transmission that has originated from Tasmania, Australia.
  • Following this, re-broadcasting the recorded transmission to the next location along the migratory path of the shearwaters.
  • After the voice recording has been received and re-broadcast through a sequence of locations, it will be returned to Tasmania.
  • For those who might be interested, Abbie can send documentation of the final sound installation created from the shortwave transmission.
  • With permission, Abbie will acknowledge shortwaves radio clubs and amateurs involved in the collaborative transmission in her exhibition catalogue.

Abbie Calvert is a sound artist based in Hobart, Tasmania. She often creates interactive and immersive sound installations, with a particular interest in bird calls and environments. In 2021, Abbie was the recipient of the Contemporary Art Tasmania award. Abbie is currently completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours at the University of Tasmania.

Birdlife Australia 2022 Ardenna tenuirostris (Procellariidae), information page, Birdlife Australia, viewed 15th April 2022 < >

Bool, N 2018 ‘The foraging ecology of the short-tailed shearwater (Ardenna tenuirostris): Lifehistory strategies and climate change,’ PhD thesis, University of Tasmania, Tasmania, viewed 12th
April 2022 <>

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) 2021 Pumice the key to solving seabird mass death mystery, media release, CSIRO, viewed 15th April 2022

Glencross JS , Lavers J & Woehler EJ 2021 ‘Breeding success of short-tailed shearwaters following extreme environmental conditions,’ Marine Ecology Progress Series, vol. 672, pp. 193-203, viewed 25th August 2022 <>

National Park Service 2019 Alaska Nature and Science: 2019 Seabird Die-Off, report, viewed 15th April 2022 <>

Readfearn, G 2019 ‘From Alaska to Australia, anxious observers fear mass shearwater deaths,’ The Guardian, published 24th November 2019, viewed 12th April 2022 <>




If interested in being involved in this project and making a recording of the transmissions from your location around the Pacific Rim then please contact: [email protected]

We are looking for amateurs from  Japan, North East Russia, West Coast Alaska, West Coast Canada, West Coast United States, Hawaii and New Zealand who would like to be involved.

We look forward to hearing from you.

73, Justin Giles-Clark VK7TW

1 September 2022