I had a couple of days to catch a breath, and up on sleep, the Great Barrier Reef was calling.
With my dear friends Adam Barnett, Richard Fitzpatrick, Bevan Slattery and a dedicated team in the background we are
having big plans for the Reef. In callobaration with Parley for the Oceans we will not only increase research on the reef, but also clean up, create youth ambassadors, host ocean schools, explore, film, educate in schools and collaborate with other existing projects. There was the chance for all of us to sit down on one table, right where it happens, out on the Reef! Can't wait for 2018 to kick off ....
The next stop after very successful workshops in Korea and Malaysia, was in Taipei - Taiwan.
This is where all the ocean plastic gets sent to. Here it is washed, shredded, transformed to pellets, then into Yarn, fabric and sent to the manufacturing process. I have never actually seen how this is done, and it was an amazing opportunity to find out about all the challenges ob recycling plastic ... the different types, what needs to happen on the other end, what not to do, and what we need to do so the recycling process is working smooth.
Then i also had to present at a school further in the South of Taiwan, where some very keen students are very passionate about keeping our beaches clean. After all this, i feel very positive and competent that we do have a chance to win this war!
Parley for the Oceans is expanding its fight against Plastic pollution into Asia.
We are aware that most of the pollution is coming from Asian countries, but we are all guilty off it, because here is were
we produce, because labour is cheap, and technology is advanced.
The feedback we received from here was overwhelming. It looks like the whole world is crying out for solutions. We are all sick of polluted beaches. I was even told people stop going to beaches in some asian countries, because they are to dirty.
The next chapter is well on its way, and it is exciting. Every crisis brings opportunities, and it brings out the best in people!
I literally placed my feet onto the Australian soil, and i had to go straight back out to sea to help Richard Fitzpatrick
and the December media crew to continue the story. The Reef looked beautiful as i ever remembered it. The colours
are back and life was abundant. Two magic days with my dear nautical friends, especially sea turtles.
I had to catch a ride back home with my old colleagues from Pro Dive Cairns, as another Parley mission is calling.
Shark conservation is a huge issue, but even a much bigger task. I believe one of the most successful ways of actively fighting for a chance of their survival is sustainable shark diving tourism.
The Team from Beqa Adventure Divers are truly committed to do this. One might say feeding sharks just to get up close is not the right thing to do. but if you take into consideration that the only alternative there would be is shark fishing - then its the next best thing.
Adam Barnett and myself (biopixel shark team) where invited by Mike Neuman and his team to conduct a study on the residential sharks at 'Shark Reef'. Being surrounded by dozens of Bullsharks, Nurse sharks, Grey Reef, Silver Tip, White Tip and Black tip sharks is making it rather hard to stick to your physical limits in staying underwater. We have successfully tagged 6 White tip reef sharks with the aim to get a better understanding on how the human interaction is affecting their long term behaviour. It is also important to know what are the sharks doing on days there is no snacks from humans, and what are they doing after we leave Shark Reef.
Each diver enjoying these magnificent creatures here is paying $ 25 which will go straight to the nearby fishing villages. An agreement has been made that they will not be fishing in this area, and especially the sharks are left in peace.
It will be interesting to get hold of the data, but in the meantime the residential Shark Biologist Gauthier is getting more data. Can't wait to go back ....
Preparing for Alaska 2017 did come with big expectations. Last year, i was not prepared, but how could i ... i had no idea what nature could possibly have on its mind.
This i year i was equipped with my new Canon 1DX m2, all the lenses you need, an underwater housing, the RED Epic Dragon, and 2 of the latest DJI Inspire 2, shooting Aerials in high frame rates and RAW, double the speed, double the flight times .... what can possibly go wrong .... :)
After the first 3 days is looking like this year will be nothing like 2016. We had to increase our range in the search for Hering's and Krill, because where they are, whale's won't be far ....
Right between Baranof and Admiralty Island, with an opening to the Pacific Ocean is where our luck and legacy would live to our reputation (so i am hoping). Not only is the country side absolutely postcard spectacular, but we found two large groups of bubble net feeders.
Just imagine yourself on this 27 foot boat from the Alaska Whale Foundation, surrounded by Glaciers, waterfalls and pristine Rainforest. Then you hear as loud and clear as a person talking next to you, the feeding call of the lead whale, from probably 100 feet below the surface all the way through the hull of our Aluminium vessel. 30 seconds later you can see 15 giant mouths breaking through the surface, sea skulls joining in for Hering's trying to escape from the baleens before the jaws close this last emergency exit. This event is followed by about a minute of opportunity to collect blow samples, then they will re-group for the next dive. This will literally repeat all day long.
And as there is no bar set in how much luck you are allowed to receive in one life time, we had Orca's on 4 seperate days, even the Transit Mammal eaters. In fact this was the first time for me ever to be up close to this giant dolphins, our encounters lasted for hours, and i enjoyed every single second of it with a massive smile on my face, and my fingers rarely leaving my camera trigger. As a bonus, we even collected a blow sample.
All good things have an end, so now i am back in Australia, already thinking about my next trip to Alaska ... but can you blame me ? ....
After last years Alaska "Snotbot" Expedition, our expectations where high. Promises about whale encounters where spoken loosely, but who can be blamed when you are surrounded by hundreds of Humpback Whales at a time.
Well this year, due to National Geographic's Live Show, it had to be one month earlier. And when you work with wildlife, timing is everything. It did not look good after the first 2 days. Rehearsals for the upcoming show finished with rather devastated facial expressions, and i am sure some of the team where already thinking about other career options after this ....
But then the impossible happened, and we believe it was the whales saying thank You. Right in the second when the world turned live to us, a whale turned up next to the boat, and right in the second when it was scheduled to collect Snot ... live with a drone from a whale, while everyone is watching, yes it did happened. Even the most manly Men on board had a little bit of a tear in their eyes, but no one will admit, not even myself ;)
The whole Ocean Alliance - Parley Snotbot team, Plimsol Productions, National Geographic, Alaska Whale Foundation and Intel had a very short time to celebrate this worlds first achievement, before most of the 22 headed crew packed their bags to get back to normal live. What a team, i would work with each and everyone of them again ... and again.
What we yet did not know is what is next to come .... because for us, the trip has only just started ....
I must admit it was heart breaking (literally) to go back to dive the outer Reef of the coast of Airlie Beach, where i started my dive career a long long time ago. I remember the most vivid colours, animal encounters that would change the way i feel about our Oceans and diversity that made me who i am today.
Diving the same spot 15 years later, i could not believe my eyes. After this dive i had to sit down and had no one talking to me just so i can process what can actually happen to our oceans if we do not take care. This was another wake up call to keep fighting harder ... i only wish everybody on this planet would feel the same way ....
To rescue a Sea Turtle is pretty cool by itself. But there is no feeling like when a sick and injured animal is rehabilitated and ready to go back to where it belongs. This can take up to several years, and we are lucky to have such a large amount of supporting individuals that want to spend their own free time to help wildlife.
One more animal saved, no one gets left behind!
We have just completed the second shoot for the IMAX series on the Great Barrier Reef. Our lucky Crew was calling the most southern Reefs their home as we prepared to capture the gathering of countless giant Manta rays in the waters of Lady Elliott. The water temperature was 24 degrees, which is about 2-3 degrees warmer than what is should be. But this didn't stop the manta's from giving us their best show.
At times we had 5-6 individuals getting a cleaner wrasse treatment right in front of our eyes. A strong wind warning did cut our trip short by about 5 days, and we had to jump onboard the MS Adrenalin to seek shelter behind Fraser Island.
It took me over 12 years of diving the Great Barrier Reef to find one of the most amazing spots i had the privilege to submerge!
Tulum, Mexico - Today, on International Recycling Day, Corona and Parley for the Oceans announced their partnership in the movement to end marine plastic pollution, one of the biggest threats to human health and the survival of the planet’s largest and most important ecosystem – the world’s oceans. The long-term partnership launches with a plan to protect 100 Islands by 2020 starting in six key regions in different parts of the world – Mexico, Maldives, Australia, Chile, Italy and Dominican Republic.
An estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans each year. The problem is found in every known ecosystem and at every level of the food chain. If current marine pollution trends continue, the oceans will contain more plastic than fish by the year 2050. The partners will protect these regions by implementing Parley’s creative, multidisciplinary approach and signature formula, the Parley AIR Strategy (Avoid, Intercept, Redesign).
Now i am back to Australia with the mission to establish the Australian & SE Asian project parts !
3 years ago i was lucky enough to share a dive trip with Mike Huish and his family. We where heading out with Mike Ball Dive Expeditions to encounter the inquisitive Minke Whales during the migration into the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef.
I am stoked and honoured to receive the first Place award of the "Ocean Art Competition" 2016 in the conceptional Category with one of my all time favourite Turtle Shots.
I want to congratulate all the other inspiring Photographers out there that have either won or tried.
I am lucky to receive a trip to Sulawesi, which comes with perfect timing to get deeper into the Plastic solution around Asia Pacific.
Spending Christmas in Bali and Lombok was a start to get an idea on how big the Ocean Debris issue is in Asia Pacific. As you may have guessed .... it is huge.
Together with Parley this is going to be one of our big projects for 2017 and it will be challenging.
The good news is, i could certainly see a lot of businesses, hotels, pubs and restaurants to reduce the consumption of single use plastics and come up with alternatives such as bamboo straws.
I could also see a lot of signs and smart approaches to make everyone aware of the issues.
We are now scanning for the best partners and will start to initiate pilot projects in Indonesia and Malaysia!
I can't wait to get it started!
It was long in the planing, but finally our production of the second IMAX movie shot on the Great Barrier Reef is finally here. This week we jumped into a pool to test the equipment, allign the cameras, play with the focusing and the image composition required to shoot a big screen 3D movie.
In the image you see Richard Fitzpatrick aiming to frame a Pool shark and also playing with the new Gates UW lights. Outside the Pool is Stephen from December Media taking notes of all the settings.
I can't wait for the first official Ocean shoot ....
A shoe made from Ocean Plastic ? Does that sound weird to you ?
It is now reality. Exactly one year ago we have taken Adidas to the Maldives to introduce a new concept of making shoes and at the same time cleaning up the mess all of us (humans) have created.
Now, 12 months later its all reality. Adidas is releasing the first 1 Million Shoes made from Plastic bottles from the beautiful islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
The Parley Strategy "AIR" - Avoid : Intercept : Redesign has been put into Action, and it is only the start.
Ocean School - consist of different activities including Scuba Diving, Snorkelling, Surfing, SUP, School Projects, Beach Cleanups, Workshops and Ambassador Parley Talks.
It is such an honour not only creating the vision for this project, but also to be an Ocean Ambassador alongside with Emily Penn, Kahi Pacarro and Iain Kerr.
This year was a huge success and we can't wait to see what other changes Adidas can make. Millions of Plastic bottles have already been taking away from ocean pollution and landfill, making the Maldives more beautiful, our oceans cleaner, and giving us a product with an inspirational Message! Its time to change - NOW!