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Underwater Photography Legend: Brian Skerry

Species Unite 8 June 2020 33


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“…based on my personal experience and having worked with scientists and researchers most of my life, I would say that it’s not too late. There are some things that are probably gone. There are places where only pockets of biodiversity may remain in the time ahead, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still have a healthy future. It may not be what it once was, but it’s like the old saying – when’s the best day to quit smoking cigarettes? Today – if you don’t quit today, when’s the next best day? Tomorrow.

So, it’s not too late. We may have lost 50% of the world’s coral reefs, but that means there’s 50% left. We may have taken 90% of the big fish in the ocean, but maybe there’s 10% left. We don’t have to kill 100 million sharks every year. We don’t have to rollback legislation that determines how much carbon we pump into the atmosphere. We can speak out against that and tell our elected leaders that we care. The ocean doesn’t have to turn acidic because we’re dumping so much carbon into it that its chemistry is changing.

These are things that we can change and can control. So, I do remain cautiously optimistic. I realize that the battle lines are drawn and we have to fight hard, but I do think that it’s worth fighting for. It’s not too late. And we can see a reversal in the places that have been protected. You do see that resilience. The ocean does know how to take care of itself. We just need to leave it alone…” -Brian Skerry

Brian Skerry is one of the worlds most accomplished underwater and marine wildlife photographers and he is one of the greatest. He’s been a contract photographer for National Geographic Magazine since 1998 and his work has been featured in scores of other publications, such as Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, BBC Wildlife, Paris Match, GEO, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, Esquire, Audubon and Men’s Journal. He is also the author of 11 books including the acclaimed monographs Ocean Soul and Shark.

In his four decades exploring the world’s oceans, Brian has experienced things that very few humans will ever get to experience, like diving with a population of southern right whales who had never before encountered human beings dropping down into their underwater universe. Brian dives eight months of the year, often in extreme conditions – beneath Arctic ice or in shark-infested waters.

His work brings us the beauty and the majesty of our oceans, but it also shows us the devastation and the destruction that we’ve caused them. His stories raise awareness, promote conservation, and ultimately create change.

Today, June 8th is World Oceans Day, the day to celebrate the world’s combined efforts to protect the one ocean that we all share. And that ocean is in bad shape – between dead zones, loss of apex predators, rising sea levels affecting tidal ecosystems, the bleaching of coral reefs, oil spills polluting the waters and decimating habitats, overfishing and hunting of marine species, climate change, rising acidity levels, and plastic, plastic and more plastic the ocean’s future seems extremely bleak. But, as I learned from Brian, there’s still time. Our ocean is resillient and there is so much left that we can save, but we have to act now.

And, I can’t imagine a better day to begin than World Oceans Day. So, start by listening to Brian, one of the best tellers of ocean stories out there.

Species Unite is a podcast focused on those who fight the good fight on behalf of animals around the globe. It's a collection of the stories of the people who are healing the world one creature at a time.

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