Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thomas Peschak: Marine biologist, author, photographer, conservationist.

Thomas Peschak "at work" - it is not risky, but it ain't for the faint-hearted.
Photos: Wolfgang Leander (Aliwal Shoal, 2007)
Click on images to enlarge

In his field, wildlife and shark conservation photography, Thomas is, in my and many others' opinion, one of the best - world-wide.

I will not say more than that about him. Instead, I invite you to read one of Thomas' most recent blogs. That will tell you, in his own eloquent words, what kind of a guy this young South African is:

SHARK: Saving the most important fish in the sea

Welcome to the new IMPACT online exhibition, a project exploring the internet as a venue for insightful photographic work. In an effort to remind viewers of the important role photographers play around the world, we invited an array of imagemakers to share galleries on their blogs (like this one) that comprise 12 images representing an experience when they had an impact on or were impacted.

By clicking on
the links below the IMPACT logo, you can move through the exhibition, viewing other galleries by different photographers. You can also click the IMPACT logo to be taken to a post on the liveBooks RESOLVE Blog where you can see an index of all participating photographers. We hope that by linking different photographic visions of our first topic, “Outside Looking In,” we can provide a multifaceted view of the topic as well as the IMPACT individuals can have on the world around us.

An estimated 73 million sharks are killed every year around the world and as a result 50 species are listed as vulnerable or in danger of extinction. Vast fishing fleets comb our oceans catching sharks primarily for their fins, a sought after commodity used in shark fin soup. One of the greatest challenges in marine conservation today is to instill in people a sense of wonder in the ocean that will not only awaken a feeling of ownership but also foster responsibility towards its inhabitants, especially sharks.

The legendary conservationist George Schaller wrote: ‘Pen and Camera
are weapons against oblivion, they can create awareness for that which may soon be lost forever’. As Chief Photographer of the Save our Seas Foundation I spend an average 8 months a year on assignment documenting shark conservation projects all over the world. Schaller’s words are my mantra and especially in times when all hope seems lost they inspire me never to give up. Photographs are one of the most powerful weapons in the marine conservation arsenal and it has become my life’s work to create images of sharks that will inspire people to go out of their way to help protect and save them from extinction.

For me the biggest reward comes when my photographs achieve real world marine conservation successes. Over the years I have had the immense privilege to have my images play a role in the proclamation of marine reserves and achieve changes in fisheries legislation. However the greatest joy and satisfaction comes in the form of the e-mails I receive from people whose lives were touched by my photographs and in turn created their own conservation projects in form of grass roots activities, petition sites or facebook cause groups.

The Senegalese philosopher Baba Dioum said ‘In the end we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught.’ Every person who gains an understanding of and love for sharks will bring us one step closer to putting a permanent end to the destructive activities of the shark nets, long-liners and trawlers that are collectively killing millions of sharks and ultimately destroying two thirds of our planet in the process. The ocean is our planet’s switch of life and in more ways then we care to acknowledge, we too, just like sharks depend on a healthy marine realm for our own survival.

Thomas P. Peschak
Chief Photographer
Save our Seas Foundation

Visit Thomas' website.

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