My current work is focused on documenting oceanic Hope Spots, which are ecologically unique areas of the ocean designated for protection under a global conservation plan. The initiative is overseen by Mission Blue, a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Sylvia Earle with her 2009 TED Prize Wish. These areas are of special significance to the health of the ocean due to their diversity, important habitat, or contribution to carbon sink. There are currently 79 Hope Spots worldwide, with 31 more under nomination. I have a specific interest in Hope Spots which are of importance to sharks.
In July 2017 I travelled to Cocos Island, Costa Rica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and under the umbrella of the Costa Rica Thermal Dome Hope Spot. Also known as "Shark Island", this location is an important habitat for young adult Hammerhead shark, and as such is one of the few remaining locations with populations sufficient enough for them to school. Currently a protected area, the sharks have benefited from the sanctuary, but still face mounting pressure from the demand for global shark products.
January 2018 was an expedition to the Revillagigedo Archipelago, a small chain of volcanic islands 370 miles off the tip of Baja, Mexico. This location is an important stopping ground for many large pelagic animals such as Shark, Dolphin, Giant Manta Rays, and Whales upon migratory routes as they come to the islands to feed and get cleaned of parasites. These islands are small, but host an incredible diversity of shark species including large schools of Galapagos, Hammerheads, and Silvertips. This very special area was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016, and in November 2017 became the largest marine protected area in North America.
Next, I will be concentrating on the Sea of Cortez (Baja, Mexico). This location was coined "The World's Aquarium" by Jacques Cousteau, and is perhaps the most diverse ecosystem on the planet. It is a breeding, nursery, and feeding ground for numerous species of sharks, whales, and dolphin, many of which are on the Red List of endangered species. Many of the environmental programs initiated by the people and government of Mexico have seen incredible success, both for the ocean and for the people earning a living from the sea. In my work there, I want to convey these successes and how they have impacted the incredible marine life and local communities.
Less than 1% of the ocean is protected, yet it is truly the "heart" of the planet. We depend on a healthy ocean for the food we eat and the air we breathe. I hope to create images that inspire protection of the planets most precious resource - the ocean.
Want to help? All of my work, from expedition through to exhibition, is self funded. Consider purchasing a print, becoming a Patron via a one-time contribution, or having me speak at your organization - each allows me to continue this important project.