10 images“Hark, now hear the sailors cry, smell the sea, and feel the sky, let your soul and spirit fly.” ― Van Morrison As a dive guide / underwater photographer you live in the water. It's your job to dive almost everyday, in all sorts of conditions. While working on a live aboard dive vessel in the Similan Islands National Marine Park, off Thailand's west coast, there was one site in particular that had it's own personality amongst the crew. Named Tachai, it is a series of pinnacles, rising from the bottom over 60M deep, to near the surface, slightly offshore between the Surin Islands in the North and the Similan Islands in the South. It's one of the most popular stops for dive operators in the marine park and renowned for it's marine life encounters and varying conditions. Offshore winds and swell can make for difficult entries and exits, along with strong currents in between the pinnacles. Off the boat and down a wavering buoy line to 16m quickly, without much visual reference, is the preferred method. Whenever we dived at the site, the whole crew was extra vigilant. I had the opportunity as the vessels staff photographer, to dive the area many times over the season and witness how significantly it can change from one day to the next. I learned that the ocean comes alive when the weather turns, and as night approaches. It was a privilege we don't often experience, witnessing how delicate the balance is between our marine life and their environments. The photographs are encounters and behaviors I witnessed at those times, when the currents were strong, the weather somber or after dark. The sobering news is that the region, like much of our oceans, in a declining state. It faces an onslaught from a number of angles - pollution, overfishing, lacking resource management, political instability. What took hundreds of hours and a season to capture, could have been seen on a single trip, just a decade ago. The marine life is vanishing and the view is that our ocean's are approaching critical condition. Our megafauna are disappearing - sharks, rays, turtles, along with the base of the food chain, the small planktonic plants and animals, that support the system as a whole. Climate change is fostering conditions that are causing the acidity in our oceans to increase. Although not visible, this change is so significant that entire eco-systems are affected and species are disappearing. Many of the animals that once thrived at Tachai depend on these planktonic creatures for survival. This area attracts life because of the nutrient rich currents that rise from the deep and wash over it's pinnacles. They represent the result of a cycle, that begins with the sun, descending to the bottom and returning with life from the depths to nourish and sustain. Action, along with awareness is becoming our only solution, if there's hope in creating sustainability in our oceans.
12 imagesOn the north east coast of Bali, Island of the Gods, are two small native fishing villages, Tulamben and Kubu. Lying within the coral triangle, they are at the heart of marine biodiversity on the planet, flushed with strong ocean currents, nutrient rich volcanic slopes explode with life. Lying in the shadow of the island's largest volcano, the black sand coastline drops off with enormous boulders and rubble scattered across the underwater landscape. Shipwrecks and spiritually inspired creations become artificial habitats. To dive quietly along these reefs, early in the morning or when the weather isn't favourable, allows one to experience a place marked by constance change. Mother nature gives and takes away in equal measure. No matter how dark the water appears at times, life adapts and thrives. As the island's population grows so does the need for resources. The area is renowned for it's sea life but is experiencing overfishing, pollution and habitat loss as development expands. Fortunately, Tulamben provides a relative sanctuary, loved and well taken care of by the friendly local people. It is a place that commands great respect, where balance is deemed essential for both physical and spiritual prosperity. These otherworldly landscapes represent unique eco-systems that require our collective conservation.
33 images"From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free." - Jacques-Yves Cousteau With marine bio-diversity unparalleled elsewhere on the planet, the Indo Pacific stretches from the western and central Pacific ocean, across Indonesia, to include the tropical Indian Ocean. It is a natural wonder; a kaleidoscope of colour, collaboration and perilous in one breath. Long before man laid claim to it’s resources, the sea here flourished with life. Now it is only with patience and persistence that the wonderments of this vast region can be found. These photographs encompass only a minute fraction of the breadth of life that inhabit these seas. Without efforts to conserve and protect the wonderful creatures who call this place home, we may soon realize how intertwined our fates have become.