Ocean Soul

© Brian Skerry, photo courtesy of National Geographic

It’s a real pleasure for me to be able to contribute a blog post to Conservation International. And I am grateful for their continued support and the support they provided for my new book, “Ocean Soul,” which is officially released today!

The title for this book came to me years ago as I reflected on what it is I photograph. When asked what my favorite subjects are, I have a hard time answering since I am fascinated by all animals and ecosystems underwater. Some photographers specialize in big animals or in macro creatures, some only in warm waters while others prefer the cold. I have never been able to pick an absolute favorite because I truly love it all.

What I enjoy more than anything, however, is making pictures that evoke the true essence of an animal. I often feel a life force emanating from creatures I photograph, an energy that is tangible and that defines an individual animal. I try to use that energy to make pictures that are more than simply a record, wanting instead to preserve a moment in time, an instant when a creature’s spirit is captured in a blend of light, gesture and grace.

“Ocean Soul” describes this life force that exists within animals and places in the sea, and which emanates from the ocean as a whole. And I suppose it is also how I see myself, as an ocean soul, having spent the majority of my life chasing that dream and being drawn by that tidal force of the sea.

Like most photographers, my interest has always been to make beautiful pictures of subjects that inspire me. The creative process has been my strongest motivator, wanting to spend time in nature and interpret what was before my eyes with a camera. My greatest joy comes from producing photographs that celebrate nature and reveal magical, natural moments. But there has been an evolution in my work over the years, a path that has led from striving only to capture nature’s beauty to a journalistic focus on the many threats facing our oceans and marine wildlife as well.

We live on a water planet, yet I wonder how many of us actually see it that way? Water covers over three quarters of the planet’s surface and represents nearly 98 percent of its livable volume; the majority of the air we breathe comes from the sea.

Knowing this, a logical conclusion would be that mankind must do everything possible to protect this vital component of our home, when clearly our own survival depends on it. Instead we have treated our precious waters like a sewer, a place to throw chemicals and trash. We have removed wildlife from the sea for centuries and destroyed entire ecosystems while conserving very little.

I have always believed that the sea suffers the fate of being regarded as vast and deep with endless resources and bounty, yet I know that the reality is far different. She is resilient indeed, but will die a death from a thousand cuts unless we take bold steps to ensure her protection.

Brian Skerry (© Mauricio Handler)

I have been blessed to realize my dream of becoming an underwater photojournalist, but with that feel an obligation and sense of urgency to share what I have seen with others. It would be fun to pursue only celebratory pictures of nature, but it is because of my love for the sea that I photograph the disturbing scenes as well, in hopes of raising awareness. Photography can be a powerful instrument for change and photojournalists can tell stories that make a difference.

Within this book are elements of all that I have seen and learned in more than three decades spent exploring the sea: my passion and dreams, the life force of the sea and the wounds she suffers. Together they represent “Ocean Soul.”

Brian Skerry is an underwater photojournalist who has donated countless images to CI over the years, which have helped to enhance our conservation awareness efforts.


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  2. Mark Ruddick says

    To Whom It May Concern

    My name is Mark Ruddick and I am contacting you concerning a project which I hope Conservation International may be interested in. The Underwater Realm a series of 5 short films all set underwater. The films are set in 5 different periods of history telling the story of 5 times when mankind has come into contact with a race of people living under the sea. We are currently looking for support from groups like yours to spread the word through social media, blogs and newsletters to encourage people to get involved. I have included more information at the foot of this email as well as links to our campaign here.

    I realise that as film makers we are not exactly on the front line of conservation but through these films we want more people to start getting in the water, learning about it, falling in love with it and doing what they can to protect it.The great thing about this project is that, unlike never being able to step foot on an alien world after watching Avatar you can strap on some fins and actually go to the oceans after seeing one of our films. Take a look at the link below and if you like what we’re doing then any help in the way of blogs, tweets or posts you could offer would be wonderful


    Thank you in advance

    Mark Ruddick

    The Underwater Realm is a completely voluntary project and has been running for just over 9 months. The aim is to produce 5 short films all set underwater telling the story of 5 different periods in history when mankind has come into contact with a race of people under the sea.(For more information see the video)

    Our aim is to excite people about the oceans and encourage conservation across a wider audience. After coming out of Avatar you can’t go to an alien world but after seeing one of our films you can get in the ocean, fall in love with it, learn about it and ultimately take better care of it.

    One of the most frequently asked questions we get about this project is whether we are making another Jaws and will sharks and other sea life be negatively portrayed? The Underwater Realm is all about making people excited about the oceans and to encourage interaction with them. Scaring people with false information isn’t going to achieve that. Sharks feature in the films along with other forms of marine wildlife such as whales, giant squid and dolphins and are as much a part of the culture and world we are trying to build as anything else. We want people to see marine life just like any other form of life; as something to be respected and understood.

    Our biggest obstacle is making people aware of our existence and that’s where Conservation International comes in. We want more people to engage with this project and you are the ones in contact with the divers, conservationists and general ocean lovers of the world. We are looking to raise funds through Kick Starter, an online fundraising website (for more information please see the Kick Starter website) and need to spread the word as far as we can. You are the ones in connection with the divers, conservationists, film makers and general ocean fanatics of the world and they are exactly the people we need to reach.

    If we could get a posting on your Facebook or Twitter, or if you could share the Kick Starter video with your fans and members through your blog, newsletters or other rss feeds then we can reach the people who will really dig this project and want to help make it a reality. We can provide press packs, pre written articles, interviews, images; anything you like to make it easier for you to get the word out. If you think this is something you could use then we are more than happy to provide anything you may need. There are some great rewards in exchange for donations and if you have any questions please contact me any time. With your support hopefully we can reach our goal and make cinema history while raising ocean awareness all at the same time.

    Thanks in advance

    Mark Ruddick Realm Pictures
    Realm Pictures Coniston Lodge
    Production/Stunt Coordinator Rowdens Road
    mark@realm-pictures.com Torquay
    07853343547 TQ25AZ

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