I’ll never forget this sunset in the water, as the colors turned pink and blue and reflected off the water in a way that I have since referred to as Samana satin. A long weekend escape from New York quickly turned into a few weeks exploring the jungles, rivers, and coastlines of this beautiful area.
The Galápagos green turtle has a slightly more domed shell than the Pacific green turtle, and is also identified by its serrated lower jaw and a single pair of scales covering its eyes. It is named such because it comes to the Galápagos to lay its eggs; a female will lay between 50 to 200 eggs once a year. The Galápagos green turtle was placed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in the mid-1980s and has remained under protection since.
I was mesmerized by the bright purple color and magnificent patterns of this giant sea clam in the Banda Sea of Indonesia. By day, the clam spreads out its mantle so that its symbiotic algae receive the sunlight they need to photosynthesize. The clam gets most (70-100%) of its nutrients from the algae and the rest from filter feeding. A highly endangered sub-species of the Galápagos green sea turtle, the clam’s mantle is often eaten by humans and is also popular in the marine aquarium trade.
Where the sky meets the water, there is no ocean more picturesque in my opinion than the crystal clear waters of French Polynesia. The Tuamotus include almost 80 islands and atolls, forming the largest chain of atolls in the world.
The coral atolls of the Tuamotus are so low that they’re threatened by rising sea levels. A widespread assumption is that such atolls will cease to provide viable livelihoods for islanders, who will be forced to migrate.
All of the islands of the Tuamotus are coral "low islands": essentially high sand bars built upon coral reefs. The sparse soil of the coral islands does not permit diverse vegetation. The coconut palm, which forms the basis for copra production, is of special economic importance. Copra (or khobara) is the dried meat or kernel of the coconut, which is the fruit of the coconut palm. Coconut oil is extracted from copra, making it an important agricultural commodity for many coconut-producing countries.
The Forgotten Islands are a 1,000 km long chain of archipelagos stretching from Timor to West Papua; it is part of what is referred to as the “Coral Triangle,” one of the most pristine areas in the world to see corals and soft sponges. Undeveloped, distant from population centers and far off any beaten path, these “Forgotten Islands” have been largely isolated from the rest of Indonesia and the world. In these desperate days of dying corals, it is always uplifting to see vibrant coral communities.
St. Barth has become synonymous with sexy style and sultry party nights. But there is a lot more to this beautiful Caribbean island and over the past four years I have fallen in love with her dynamic rocky coastlines and interesting swimming routes. Here I explored a cave that I swam to, where the waves lapped against the rocks and currents churned, creating an eerie type of mystical feel to the water.
I was lucky to explore the abundant reefs of Papua New Guinea as a partner guest on TED’s Mission Blue II, a gathering of individuals at the forefront of the ocean conservation movement. Located north of Australia, PNG’s reefs on the north and east lie within the Coral Triangle. While PNG’s extensive coastal reefs and offshore patch reefs show a high degree of biodiversity, research, monitoring and management capacity have been limited due to its remoteness.
When I first started playing around with underwater photography, the artist in me was drawn to the currents, the play of light, the reflections of color above and below the surface of the water. Here in my home waters of Maui, I’m constantly inspired by the beauty of the simplest of things.
These banded Sea Urchins are often seen around the Hawaiian Islands, with radially symmetrical bodies divided into 5 equal parts. They move about using articulating spines and tube feet. Native Hawaiians once harvested Wana as a principal food source.
Jellyfish are one of the most mysterious ocean creatures to me. I’ve observed them large, small, translucent, colored, fluorescent, and even electro-magnetic! I discovered this jellyfish snorkeling in the remote Tuamotu Islands, and stayed with it for close to an hour, watching it as it peacefully moved rhythmically through the water.
When we first dove off Makatea, one of Polynesia’s only uplifted coral atolls, we literally had tears in our eyes as we resurfaced. It was the healthiest reef we had seen in a while, full of beautiful coral roses that lapped upon each other. Once the site of a major French phosphate mine abandoned in the 60’s, we wondered if the incredible reef abundance was due to lack of development or the leaching of phosphorus.
French Polynesia was officially named a shark sanctuary in 2012 and due to protectionary efforts, it is one of the best places in the world to interact in the wild with sharks. It was fun to explore the ocean around Mo’orea with local scientists, sharing information about how they do their work in this special ocean environment.
I first received inspiration for the name OCEANSCAPES from a style of shooting that captured the esoteric and ephemeral quality of the lines of the ocean. Here in a shallow lagoon in the Banda Sea, we went in the water in hopes of observing a baby shark sanctuary. In these shallow coastline areas baby sharks feel safe and secure.
The Raja Ampat archipelago, located off the northwest tip of New Guinea, is part of the Coral Triangle. According to Conservation International, marine surveys suggest that the marine biodiversity in the Raja Ampat is the most abundant on Earth.” Positioned between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Raja Ampat's coral diversity, resilience, and role as a source for larval dispersal make it a global priority for marine protection.
I love looking for little things, tucked into corners of coral, hidden under ledges, attached to sea fans. With some of the highest biomass of reef fish populations ever recorded throughout the whole of Indonesia, the Forgotten Islands are truly one of the “last of the wild” seascapes on earth. (The biomass is the mass of living biological organisms in a given area or ecosystem at a given time.)