An interview with the creators of The Last Male Standing, a film about Sudan, the last male northern white rhino.
The journey of this film started in 2014 through a successful Kickstarter and tells the story of the Kenyan caretakers that have dedicated their lives to the last male Northern White Rhino in the world, Sudan. On the 20th of March Sudan passed away, putting the sub-species close to extinction, with just two females left. IVF treatment is being trailed. 20% of the profits for this film will go back into wildlife conservation efforts and this interview with the directors gives an insight into this inspiring film.
The Last Male Standing
with Andrew Harrison Brown (Producer) and David Hambridge (Director)
David: There is so much to say about the rhino caretakers at Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Each member of the team is authentically unique. Many of them come from different towns or villages, from different tribes, cultures and beliefs - but somehow despite their many differences, they have created a strong brotherhood. It's a bond as strong as any that I've seen in my experience, and at its core, is one cause: to protect and serve these severely endangered rhinos.
'Our hearts go out to the men who stayed with Sudan at all times during his final moments - through the days and nights. Your steadfast love and dedication to Sudan in his final chapter was remarkable.
We are truly honoured to film your story.' (Andrew Harrison Brown - olpejeta)
Film Trailer: The Last Male Standing
Find out more information about the film here: www.thelastmalestanding.com
What have you learnt making this film?
David: I've learned to trust my instincts as a filmmaker. I've always wanted this film to be told by a Kenyan voice rather than the usual Western wildlife experts and scientists, but with that, I've had to be much more patient for my story to unfold. Learning patience doesn't come cheap either. I've had to sacrifice a lot of comforts and opportunities back in the U.S. because I was trying to build a full-bodied story in Kenya. But in the end, I have no doubt that the story I've been able to capture will be worth it.
Andrew: Over the last four years as a producer, my bandwidth has really been divided by two separate feature films: When Lambs Become Lions (Tribeca 2018) and The Last Male Standing. During that time, I've learned that you cannot create interesting stories about someone without first being truly interested in them. One thing that I appreciate about working with David is that we both value building relationships with the people that we're filming and we don't prioritize footage over people. We both strive to create an environment during production where all voices matter, all ideas matter and everyone feels like they are welcome to contribute to the greater story. That isn't always the case in many productions.
JoJo, one of Sudan’s caregivers visits his tombstone nearly 3 weeks after his death to clean the tombstone. Simply put, these guys haven’t stopped caring for him, even after death. Personally, they have taught me a new level of service and sacrifice - they’ve shown me in a very tangible and raw way what it truly means to dedicate yourself to a cause larger than yourself. While they’ve grieved and focused their sights on caring for other conservation efforts, you can’t spend time around Ol Pejeta without feeling the void of Sudan and the amount of love these men had for him. (Andrew Harrison Brown - olpejeta)
On the March 19th Dr. Morne de La Rey extracts Sudan’s DNA from different parts of the body, a critical measure to save the northern white rhinos from extinction. By cryogenically banking Sudan’s DNA, scientists hope to use that genetic material to hopefully resurrect the species from their recent ‘natural’ extinction. (Andrew Harrison Brown - olpejeta)
Photography and film : A purpose
Andrew: I believe that the sole purpose of documentary filmmaking is to spark conversation throughout society. Ironically, although we live in a period of time where our lives are filled with more noise than ever, it seems as though we are having fewer conversations with each other. Everyone has an opinion that they want to share - or tweet - but there just doesn't seem to be a strong desire to listen. Everyone is just screaming statistics at each other in hopes of winning an argument, and in my experience, the only thing that consistently gets me out of that self-centric rut is when I stop long enough to listen to other people's stories. I think that's the posture that we all need to squeeze ourselves into if we are going to grow past the current climate. And that's what I love about documentary films.
We must remember the future generation and the environment they inherit.
David: At the end of the day, we hope our film carries Sudan's legacy and the sacrifice these caretakers have made out into the world. Sudan and the caretakers' story is overflowing with lessons that can benefit everyone, if we are just willing to listen.
Testify by images is a way of participating in its preservation and protection.
The grey whale is one is one of the animal kingdom’s great migrator. Traveling in groups called pods, some of these giants swim from their summer home in Alaskan waters to the warmer waters off the Mexican coast. This day a mom and her calf decided to swim very close to our boat. The mom lifted her baby as if she wanted us to present him. A woman put a hand gently on this calf for a hug. (Fabrice Guerin)
Sardine run made in south africa: the show must go on! (Fabrice Guerin)
Since my young age, I have been passionate about wildlife documentaries. This world is fascinating because Nature is prioritised over all. An animal doesn’t lie and they are authentic. That is what I like. I began photography in the forest near my home in France with a reflex and a telephoto lens. I explored new places, I tried new approaches as the macrophotography. After a few years, for the first time, I had had the opportunity to scuba dive: I discovered a new dimension, a new world.
The scientific mission named "Maubydick" continues in the indian ocean. We identified sperm whales. At this time the mission has created a catalog containing about fifty illustrated index cards. (Fabrice Guerin)
Nature provides us of beautiful surprises. To meet the giant of the oceans is an unforgettable moment. During a scientific mission, a free diver swims towards sperm whale sleeping. Sperm whale sleeps in vertically position but not fully. They have the ability to be half asleep. The scientist swam several times among them without disturbing them. He swam from an sperm whale to an other like a guest to say hello. Amazing moment!
With the wildlife photography, I learnt to be patient, to watch animals and to understand their behaviours. The most important is the ability to come across animals, because the animal decides, not you. I make researches to know the good places to find a species in particular. But sometimes, we see nothing for days and days: Nature is like that, wild and unpredictable. I photograph by instinct and I trust my lucky chance: being at the good place at the best time.
The photo should tell a story, arouse feelings and questions: that’s what I’m looking for! This is exactly what I experienced on this January day in Norway under a cloudy and rainy day. Our group had just slipped into the water over a huge school of herrings located in a sandy and shallow area. Orcas typically will push herring toward the shallows in order to hunt them more efficiently. Luck prevailed because of that sandy patch; light was bouncing up its surface and contributed much needed light to the scene. For twenty minutes, I hovered over the school of herrings, hoping to photograph an orca, when suddenly, the school parted and in its mist was a humpback whale in full hunting mode. What a surprise and what an encounter! Photographing this humpback whale in action in theses cold Norwegian water will remain one of my best souvenirs.
Unforgettable atmosphere in the heart of Maya forest! (Fabrice Guerin)
On earth or in oceans, the Nature gives us a great moments and surprises. I have the privilege to observe it since many years and each time I’m amazed by this biodiversity, essential for all life on Earth. Unfortunately, I am also a witness of the degradation of our environment: climate change, overfishing, pollution, poaching... So much damage as we impose on the Nature. Nevertheless, no species, however powerful it is, could not take place of the existence of other one. Now, there are many Emergencies. Human being is the only responsible of the health of our planet. However, it’s never too late. We have to do everything possible to improve this situation. I choose to sensitive people sharing my experience with my images in conferences, exhibitions, schools… I work in scientific expeditions too. With team, we identify specific species like sperm whale, whale shark, polar bear, gorilla…
There are a lot of solutions but never easy to establish them especially as the effects are not immediate. From now everyone participates in its own way in the conservation of this biodiversity.
My Nature - Fabrice Guerin Expedition for Conservation.
A touching moment as an infant orangutan lays his small hand (Pongo pygmaeus) in the big hand of its mother, Borneo, Indonesia (Jami Tarris)
I have been interested in wildlife and nature since I was a child. I spent most of my time outside exploring our forest with my dog. Because of my mother, I was a voracious reader and read every book that I could about nature and wildlife (Jack London, Birute Galdikas, Jane Goodall). I have worked on many projects, but the two that were the most important and interesting to me were, the Desert-Adapted elephants in the Skeleton Coast of Namibia, and a project on oil palms and orangutans in Sumatra and Borneo. I could write a lengthy article on either topic, but these projects are my favorite. They were both extremely fascinating and fun. I have published in many major magazine publications worldwide, as well as calendars, newspapers, books. I have won photography awards in the BBC WPOTY, Nature’s Best, National Wildlife Federation. I have had images on exhibit at the Smithsonian, London Natural History Museum, St. Petersburg Natural History Museum and more.
A male polar bear walking on pack ice in the landscape on the Arctic Ocean, Svalbard, Norway (Jami Tarris)
Wild Focus Expeditions
We founded 'Wild Focus Expeditions’ (no long Focus Expeditions). It is a company where we take small groups to remote and wild locations around the world. We teach natural history, conservation and of course, photography to every one that travels with us to give them an intense and deeply moving experience during our trips. Our goal is to allow nature to have such a profound affect and influence, that our clients return home very much different than they were before the trip. In short, we want our trips to change their lives. Most people (particularly Americans) are very unaware of the conservation issues worldwide. It is our job to make them aware through our expeditions and of course, through our photography.
What have you learnt?
I have photographed for over 30 years and after living many months a year in the field, I have learned that I am more comfortable being alone, and in the company of animals than in cities with people. I have learned that there are very few people who are aware of the current plight and challenges of most wildlife species today. These species need human primates to protect them and their habitats. I have learned that visual imagery is an extremely effective voice for bringing about awareness, change and support to endangered species and fragile habitats
Close-up portrait of a wild jaguar (Panthera onca) taken by a camera trap in the forest of the Pantanal, Brasil (Jami Tarris)
Purpose of photography
Photography has become even more popular today due to technology and social media. It creates a strong visual impact to the general public and promotes awareness to all age groups and demographics more than ever in history. Photographs provide awareness to a large worldwide audience about the conservation issues facing so many different animal species. Photographs are powerful. I plan to continue my work focusing on wildlife conservation until the end of my life. I will also continue to photograph the plethora of issues facing various endangered and vulnerable species as well as take nature-loving people to remote destinations so that I can share my past experiences, and give them new and eye-opening experiences of their own based on the realities of our planet.
Sometimes you have to feel small in order to put life back in perspective. Being alone in a wild place is so good for the soul. This was taken at Laguna Verde, Bolivia - very remote. (Jami Tarris)
Tanya is passionate about marine conservation and has documented her sons journey underwater.
A large aggregation of sand tiger sharks above the wreck of the Caribsea off the coast of North Carolina (Olympus OM-D E-M1, Lumix 8mm fisheye lens, 1/320, f/4.5, ISO 250)
I started scuba diving back in 2008 because it was always something I had wanted to do. At the time, I was teaching skydiving on the weekends, and many of my skydiver friends were also scuba divers. I heard them talk about the fun they were having on scuba trips, so I decided to get certified. After I was certified, I started diving in North Carolina where it’s very common to see sand tiger sharks. I became fascinated by sharks after seeing them in the water, and quickly realized they were not the monsters so often portrayed by the media. I also learned that over 70 million sharks are killed by humans every year, and that several shark species are on the verge of extinction. To put this in perspective, every year on average between 5-7 people are killed by sharks worldwide. We are much more of a threat to them than they are to us. I thought that maybe I could take some pictures of the sharks I see on my dives to hopefully inspire people to care more about them and want to save them. I knew nothing about photography when I bought my camera in 2014, so I started reading everything I could about taking good pictures, and then got into the water to start practicing. Thankfully, my skills improved quickly, and my photos of sharks and other underwater animals began to be noticed. Then in 2015 I left the corporate world to become a full time underwater photographer and conservationist. But there is also another reason I decided to take pictures underwater, and that is to document my son’s journey as a scuba diver. My son Richard is 21 years old and he has autism. He became a certified diver through the Handicapped Scuba Association when he was 17, and diving is one of his favorite things to do. I hope that when people see images of Richard diving, they will be inspired to try things they may have thought they couldn’t do. So I see my work as dispelling misconceptions – both misconceptions about sharks, and misconceptions about what those with disabilities are capable of.
A Steller sea lion swims through the chilly green waters off the coast of Vancouver Island British Columbia.
(Tanya Houppermans, Olympus OM-D E-M1, m.Zuiko 8mm fisheye lens, 1/320, f/3.5, ISO 250)
I actually still use the first camera I bought back in 2014, which is the Olympus OM-D E-M1. I recently purchased the EM-1 MkII, but I haven’t taken it underwater yet. When I started out in 2014, I was using the Panasonic Lumix 8mm f/3.5 fisheye, but I bought the Olympus m.Zuiko 8mm f/1.8 PRO fisheye as soon as it was released, and that has been my go-to lens ever since. The combination of the E-M1 and the m.Zuiko 8mm fisheye is simply fantastic. Superb image quality, super-fast focus, and easily transportable - I can’t imagine using anything else. Underwater I use the Nauticam NA-EM1 housing, Zen DP170 glass dome port, and i-Divesite Symbiosis SS-2 strobes. I don’t do as much topside photography as underwater, but for topside I also have the m.Zuiko 60mm macro lens, m.Zuiko 12-40mm PRO lens, and m.Zuiko 40-150 PRO lens.
A sand tiger shark inside a massive bait ball of tiny fish off the coast of North Carolina
(Tanya Houppermans, Olympus OM-D E-M1, m.Zuiko 8mm fisheye lens, 1/320, f/4, ISO 320)
No matter who you are or where you live, there is always something you can do to protect marine life. One of the biggest threats to all marine life is pollution, especially plastics. You wouldn’t believe how much plastic makes its way to the ocean, and the damage is catastrophic, not only to marine life but the marine environment as a whole. So use less plastic! This is easy to do – skip the straw when you order a drink, use a refillable water bottle, and buy products that don’t use plastic in their packaging. When you do use plastics, please make sure you dispose of them in a proper recycling container. To help specific marine animals, there are some wonderful conservation organisations out there working tirelessly on their behalf. Donations are always appreciated, and desperately needed. When I first became involved in shark conservation, I raised $1000 for a shark conservation group by running a marathon!
A pod of spotted dolphins off the coast of North Carolina
(Tanya Houppermans, Olympus, OM-D E-M1, m.Zuiko 8mm fisheye lens, 1/320, f/4.5, ISO 320)
Inspirations and plans
First, I am inspired by the animals I have the honor of diving with. From the tiniest shrimp to the largest whale shark, you really can’t help but care about them when you see them in the wild. Second, I am inspired by my son being a diver. The look on his face and his huge smile (even underwater!) when he sees these animals let me know that I’m doing what I was meant to do, both for the ocean’s creatures and for Richard. I believe the purpose of photography in conservation is to make a connection with the viewer. We can speak all we want about what is happening below the surface of the water, but to many people these are abstract notions. Yet a single image has the power to change minds. In some of my presentations, I have shown an image of a dying sand tiger shark. This shark had been hooked by a fisherman. But instead of just cutting the hook and letting her go, they also stabbed her through the back of the head and threw her overboard. She lay dying on the sea floor near a shipwreck, where I found her. Whenever I show that image, and tell the story of finding her, I always see at least a few people in the audience with tears running down their faces. And inevitably they will ask me, “What can I do to help?” But it’s not just the sad images that create a connection. I’ve also had people tell me, “I never knew sharks could be so beautiful!” And that also inspires them to want to act. But the common factor is that they have seen an image that has created an emotional response, and that is what I try to do with my photographs.
Right now I am involved in developing a citizen science project that will allow divers to upload their images of sand tiger sharks to a website where the software will identify the individual sharks based on their unique spot patterns. That way researchers can learn more about the health of the sand tiger populations along the east coast of the U.S. I love using my images to further conservation and research efforts, so I definitely want to continue that type of work in the future. But I do have some personal goals with my photography, such as capturing images of sharks in more extreme environments such as Greenland sharks in the Arctic, and also photographing whales such as orcas, blue whales, and humpbacks. I also recently became certified to start doing deeper decompression dives that will allow me to access some shipwrecks that until now have been out of my reach. That’s one of the great things about underwater photography – it’s nearly impossible to run out of amazing subjects!
Morgan is an acclaimed underwater photographer with a passion for ocean conservation.
Jack Johnson and a bounty of trash we cleaned up over the course of a day on the windward side of Oahu last month. (Morgan Maassen)
In between waves on the North Shore of Hawaii with Jack Johnson (Morgan Maassen)
My name is Morgan Maassen, i am a 27 year old photographer and filmmaker from Santa Barbara, California. I grew up in the ocean, spending all my free time surfing, spearfishing, skim boarding, swimming and boating. Through my parents and my passions surrounding the ocean, I couldn't help but fall in love with it, later using filmmaking and photography to explore it across the globe.
Morgan Maassen in his favourite place.
Photography and conservation
As someone who enjoys traveling to places both known and unknown, photography is an incredible way to document and share what is happening beyond the bubble of our own hometowns... And as more photographers and filmmakers collectively document what they see, whether its plastic pollution or humanitarian crises, we can provide both realtime updates and visual representation to what is sometimes lost in just words and data, or simply intangible to a viewer when not directly visible.
I think my photos naturally seek simplicity and curiosity, whether shooting plastic pollution or a cloud over the ocean... they always reflect what is captivating my attention.
The ocean has given me everything, and it's time i give back. We as surfers, beachgoers, and humans have to do our part.. While plastic is unavoidable in everyday life, i'm proud to acknowledge the issue through education, and applying that to making changes that should have been in place long ago. (Morgan Maassen)
Passion and inspiration
Caring for the oceans is huge to me; they have given me everything.
I'd really like to focus my time and energy more than ever to help take care of them, raise awareness for their plight, and get everyone onboard with streamlining our coexistence with them moving forward. Traveling inspires me! I just want to see as much of the world as possible. To be able to make photos and videos, to inspire people, and hopefully make the world a cleaner and better place is a dream come true.
'When visiting, we only took photos, and left only footprints... But in the 30 minutes it took to walk around the island, the amount of plastic pollution we saw on the beach and in the ocean was nothing short of astounding. Chris Hemsworth stands here with what he effortlessly gathered on one of the island's sandspits.' #100islandsprotected (Morgan Maassen)
I've had the good fortune to lend my abilities to major brands like Corona, artists like Jack Johnson, or organizations like the UN that are trying to make themselves and the world a better place. Its both an honour and incredibly gratifying to be able to use my passions of photography and filmmaking to not just satiate my desires, but to hand off to larger entities to use in their devices, like Corona x Parley tackling plastic pollution, or Jack Johnson launching an album and tour to raise awareness about ocean pollution, etc.
Here is a photo of me against the night sky. i'm not too hot on posting selfies, but i cannot stress how much development comes in just wandering alone with one's camera. for me, the night held many answers in my exploration into photography... (Morgan Maassen)
My name is Engin Sahin. I'm 25 years old. I'm living in Switzerland but I'm originally Kurdish. I love hiking, paragliding, eating and photographing. I travel alone. I don't like companionship while hiking because I really want to be with myself and nature. I want to see, to hear and to feel the nature, but in recent years I realised that Mother Nature is dying. I thought about my future children. "Will they still see such a beautiful earth?" So I decided to take photos of landscapes for my future children. Dead places still exist on photos. I call it "Conservation of Mother Nature". This way my future children will be able to see such beauty. One day I decided to share my photos on Instagram with the whole world. I wanted them to appreciate the importance of Mother Nature. I also love to make people laugh. In my opinion there are a lot of sad people who haven't laughed for a long time. That's why I combine my Instagram posts with some funny stories. Maybe someone will laugh.
I shot this photo in Bolzern, Switzerland. My girlfriend and I were hiking there. It was very cold, about -5.0 degrees celsius. But the setting sun was heating us. We decided to have a break. While we were drinking some tea I saw the sun rays hitting the mountain. It was a beautiful view. I decided immediately to take a photo of this natural spectacle. (Engin Sahin)
In the future I will focus on Deep-Sky photography. I bought the "Skywatcher Star Adventurer Mini" some weeks ago. I'm a big fan of stars and planets. I love the unknown in the endless expanse. Sometimes I ask myself thousands of questions about the sky. "Are we alone?", "Are there other lives?", "Is there a copy of myself?", "Does he also do an interview right now?" and a lot of other questions. I love the different colours of the celestial objects. For example the Andromeda. There are red, yellow, blue, purple and orange. It's a colourful spectacle. I've already shot the Andromeda. You will find it on Instagram. If someone gives me the choice between staying on earth with my family or the exploring alone the unknown in the endless expanse I would explore the universe. Maybe I'm an explorer like Columbus. Maybe I will escape from the problems on earth. I don't know.
There is no civilisation and the phone has no reception. Göschenen looks like a place on a different planet. My friend and I were hiking in the mountains of Göschenen. Later we realized that we were lost. The sun was disappearing and we decided to stay in an abandoned hut over 2000 meters above the sea level. Later we took some photos of the milkyway with the Skywatcher Star Adventurer Mini. (Engin Sahin)
I was using the OMD EM 10 Mark 2 for a long time. Recently I get the Olympus OMD EM 1 Mark 2. I love the image stabilizer of Olympus. I'm also a big fan of the Live Composite and I like the retro look of the cameras. That's why I chose Olympus.
I use a lot of different lenses. The 7-14mm 1:2.8 is recommendable for landscapes. I use the 25mm 1.8 for portraits and the 75-300mm 1:4.8-6.7 II for animal portraits. I have some analog lenses too. I love the TOKINA 135mm 1:2.8. It makes great bokehs. The integrated image stabilizer makes possibile to shot some sharp photos with it.
You can receive an Olympus discount by using the code Jasper15:
You can find out more information about Engin's work here:
Romain works as a doctor by day and has loved the ocean since he was a child.
The Stingray moves like a vacuum cleaner while Black Tip Reef Sharks move through the background. This photo was ranked in various categories of the 2018 Paris diving fair contest, and in the category up & coming of the contest underwater photographer of the year 2018. (Romain Barats)
The mako shark in mid-water / mid-air. This super predator can hunt very fast fish such as tuna or sailfish.
Photo taken off Cabo San Lucas in Mexico (Romain Barats)
I’m a French doctor in radiology born in Oloron Sainte Marie in France and I grew with Cousteau’s stories. I love to dive of course, that I did in a lot of places (Red Sea, South Africa, Polynesia, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Hawaï...) and am rebreather diver (air diluent); I began underwater photography 3 years ago with a compact canon then switched to a Nikon D750. I try to immortalise beautiful events underwater, specially about whales. My dream is to write a book for education illustrated with my shots.
Media are omnipresent, everytime and everywhere, especially images and videos, as we can see on Instagram, Facebook etc. With the powerful actual cameras, a 4K video or a shot are far more popular than a written book without image, for example a picture showing the Faroé island people slaughtering pilot whales in a bloody sea, with happy kids playing with dead dolphins shock us more than a simple line in a newspaper saying that 200 pilot whales were murdered.
So in my mind media must have 2 purposes :
1. To show the beauty of our oceans.
2. To inform the public about human negative impact everywhere in the world.
Sperm Whales sleep vertically, stabilised by the spermaceti contained in their head. Here we can see them sleeping, motionless and vertical, stabilized by the spermaceti contained in their head. They usually sleep 30-45 mins in a row Females and young live in groups in tropical waters while males frequent cold waters and join females for breeding.
So far i've only got photography showing the beauty of underwater wildlife, my friends (most of them don’t know anything about oceans and marine wildlife) are really interested when I post a new photo and ask me a lot of questions, and somebody interested in something become more or less concerned. It helps me to follow my photo work. For photography equipment I’ve got a NikonD750 with a 14-24 for wide angle, a 16-85, and a 105macro. my housing is a Nauticam one, and I’ve got 2 inon strobes. For video I have a Red Epic-W caméra with a canon 11-24mm, a Nauticam housing and 2 lights Keldan 13000lux.
I have a lot of projects and will work on each one but I have to manage with my work too as a doctor. Here are a few things I want to do:
1. I want to write a book with my shots for education as children are the future and it’s essential to educate the new generation.
2. I will try to get more and more underwater action, shots and videos.
3. I’d love to photograph the negative human impact on wildlife but I need more time to do that.
Male sperm whales can measure up to 18m. They have been massively exterminated by man for several centuries, especially for their oil. They live with their families and are apnea champions, up to several hundred meters deep. They are very social and communicate with each other by series of "clicks", forming a sort of language, different depending on the groups of sperm whales. The clicks are also used to hunt because they are able to knock out prey, such as a squid, using a "mega click" then swallow at once. (Romain Barats)
The whale shark moves at 5km/hour and can live more than 100 years. (Romain Barats)
Beware of the cooups of tail during his passage! The whale shark is still being hunted to be consumed in South Asia, including Taiwan. It is regularly accompanied by fish.
Jillian is a passionate Conservationist & Marine Biologist and founder of Sharks4kids.
Jillian in her happy place.
Sharks 4 Kids
Jillian Morris Brake: I am a marine biologist, shark conservationists, photographer and author. I teamed up with Dr. Derek Burkholder and Duncan Brake, combining our science and media experience, to create a dynamic shark education program for students around the world. The goal of Sharks4Kids is to create the next generation of shark advocates through education outreach and adventure. We offer free curriculum and activities for teachers and students, outreach programs for schools and community groups and hands on tagging and snorkeling experiences. We’ve built an ambassador team, with people visiting schools and groups around the world. Through our in person visits and Skype lessons, we’ve connected with over 70,000 students in 44 countries and 47 US States and our reach is growing each year. Learning to dive changed my life and I recommend it for anyone! Getting to explore the ocean is remarkable and as divers we can share our stories with others and encourage them to find a connection to the sea. I am proud to be a PADI Ambassadiver and hopefully I can inspire people of all ages to dive in and experience the underwater world.
I have learned how creative and truly inspiring kids are. They never cease to amaze me with their genuine compassion for the ocean. They are open to learning and really want to make a difference. They give me hope every single day. Each year our goal is to reach more students and provide more opportunities for them to see sharks and gain a first hand experience.
Collage of photographs from the work done by Sharks 4 Kids impacting over 70,000 students.
Photograph and film
Photos and videos are extremely important for our organization. We are constantly using them to create new educational materials and highlight shark conservation and science. Images are extremely powerful and they can help people see these animals in a difference light. We use images to show students the weird and wonderful world of sharks, far beyond just the teeth and fins. There is a lot of negative and inaccurate media about sharks, so we use our media as a chance to tell the real story. It’s a chance to teach people about the beauty of these incredible creatures.
A beautiful bull shark swimming past (Jillian Morris Brake)
Sylvia Earle and Eugenie Clarke have been huge inspirations most of my life. I read about them in books and have been lucky enough to meet and work with Sylvia Earle. I had the chance to give her a copy of my book last year and it was an amazing experience.
Seeing a lemon shark give birth was one of the most incredible things I have ever witnessed. Seeing each little shark begin its life and seeing how vulnerable they are was extremely powerful. Life is hard enough for these sharks, so we need to do better and we need to do more. This female gave birth to 10 babies and we watched as they spiraled out and fought to break free of their umbilical cord. Groggy at first, it’s like someone hits a light switch and they immediately go into survival mode. There is no paternal care, so these little animals must find food and a place to hide out.
Shark yin yang ( nurse and hammer) - Coexist (Jillian Morris Brake)
The great thing about ocean conservation is everyone can do something. Use less single use plastic, make sustainable seafood choices if you eat seafood, start a conversation about sharks or other ocean animals, read a shark book to students; easy and simple ways we can all make an impact.
An exclusive interview with Anuar, an passionate award winning underwater photographer.
Diving with a humpback whale and her new born calf while they cruise around Roca Partida Island, in Revillagigedo, Mexico. Winner, 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest and Runner up in World Press Photo (Anuar Patjane)
Before the photograph was taken the exiting part happened, I stayed with the whale and calf for more than 5 minutes, just a few centimeters away from them. Whales look directly into your eyes and you can feel a connection as with other mamals. You know when you are welcome or not by observing the body language of the whale. We were not the only mammals visiting the whales, dolphins were also playing around and surfacing along the whale calf, it seemed like an imitation game. After a while, the whale mother decided to move towards the rest of the divers, and thats when the photograph came to life, I knew that the whole event would be full of movement so I awaited for the right moment to click.
"Conservation and protection of the oceans has become an urgent issue, and few governments and NGOs are doing something about it. With the underwater series, I try to drive our attention towards the beauty of our oceans and a truth usually unnoticed: We are brutally overfishing in our oceans, and our attention should be concentrated on the way we fish as well as what we eat from the ocean. We see and care when a forest is gone because it is visible to everybody, but we don't see when we destroy life underwater, we don't see how nets from the tuna, the shrimp industry and the whaling vessels cause damage and death to the sea. We are not familiar with this environment because we don´t see what we destroy, and this needs to change very quickly so we can reverse this course. By sharing the beauty of our oceans we might start to care more and build or strengthen the connection between us and the sea.
Im Anuar Patjane Floriuk, born in Puebla, Mexico. Im a Cultural Anthropologist and photographer obsessed with the sea and diving. I got involved with photography since very early in my life, my parents gave me a camera when I was a kid and started photographing everything for a while. During college years I got into a photo-documentary course and discovered that photography could be a tool at least as powerful as the most persuasive anthropological argument i could come out with so I began relaying on images and photography for my works and essays.
Bottleneck dolphins playing around in Xcalak National Park, Mexico. (Anuar Patjane)
Photography should be a tool that creates awareness, yes it can be an art form but it is not enough to create pure aesthetically beautiful art-full pieces; a successful photographic work in my eyes is an image that can create a shock and alter a social practice creating a different outcome, a more sustainable outcome. You ask me about the purpose, the purpose is awareness, to create empathy towards an ecosystem that is mostly unknown or feared, rationally or irrationally. Education is primordial and you used the most precise term, but first we need to make people care about the thing, in this case the ocean and the animals that inhabit it, after that education can become efficient. I contribute with organizations and projects that I feel that they are really trying to change things for the better, transforming destructive human behavior into constructive and sustainable practices. black & white hits the soul, color hits the more superficial and excitable emotions. I like to punch the soul and shock it a little if possible. Color should be used like salt, if you add too much, you will ruin it. I just don't like salt too much and try not to use it.
The great white sharks from Guadalupe, México. (Anuar Patjane)
Many things can inspire me, a Tarkovsky movie during a tranquil day; a rainy day or a walk or hike in a mountain, a good historical novel, an act of kindness developed on the street by a person that thinks that is not being seen, many things can be inspiring you just need to learn how to observe, exactly as a photographer should. Sometimes the work of other photographers can be inspiring, specially the work of the long gone masters or the active ones like Sebastiao Salgado or Koudelka. Most of the photographic work that is coming out today from younger generations, i don't connect with it, looks like very cheap copies of the work of the masters or a repetitive copy of a copy that only differentiates itself by the different aberrations of a photoshop post process learned on youtube tutorials. People this days are trying to get the shot "like the one they saw on the other guy´s facebook or instagram”. That search for likes is killing the possibility of pure photography and is creating a massive cult of the virtual superstar. Photography is not dead as some say, it is photographers who are dying, and they are being replaced by this Homo cybermegalomanicus, it is a socioeconomic phenomenon that Im sure it will change soon eventually and I cant wait for it to happen.
I find those drone footages and images interesting and mesmerising sometimes, probably because the technology and many of the perspectives are new, although they are killing the trill of the flying man with a camera and they are removing the emotion out of the image. Can you transfer the emotion to a photograph if you are driving a drone with a remote control many meters or even kilometers away from the scene you are photographing? maybe, probably not if you ask me. In the dystopian future that we are heading to im sure they will manufacture submarine drones that will make it possible for scubaphobic and lazy people to photograph underwater. Instead of scubadiver-photographers we will have drone pilots that will credit themselves as underwater photographers! When this happens I will be pretty old and senile to kick their butts, please, someone do that for me in the future.
My plans for the future are always uncertain, I dislike long or middle term plans. We need to learn to love uncertainty and become confortable with it again.
Silver jacks forming a tornado shape in Cabo Pulmo, Mexico . Park ranger Leonardo, never gets tired of the silver jacks. Cabo Pulmo is a unique example of the power of preserving marine hot spots, or what Sylvia Earle calls Hope Spots; by selecting and protecting strategic marine areas, the biomass of the ocean can increase rapidly and improve the overall health of the oceans (Anuar Patjane)
Im really bad at measuring achievements, specially my own, and photography, activism or anthropological impact is probably impossible to measure quantitatively, if someone says it can, then it is probably a person that is trying to market his work or ideas for an specific agenda. One of the most satisfying moments happened a few months ago when the Revillagigedo island became the biggest marine national park of its kind in North America, no more fishing there, just an immense sanctuary for marine life. I didn't have anything to do with it but it was a moment of success for all of us that care about the ocean, a moment of celebration.
A humpback whale with her calf in the distance in the protected area Roca Partida, Revillagigedo Islands, Mexico.
James is an passionate film director and photographer that has worked internationally with WWF, BBC and Nat Geo.
Central Africa is in the midst of an elephant poaching crisis. In order to combat the problem, the president of Gabon has recruited a whole new section of the army devoted to fighting back against wildlife crime. Here, Mba Ndong Marius holds seized Ivory tusks in front of a pile of confiscated weapons. Menkebe, Gabon. (James Morgan)
I'm James Morgan, a photographer and film director. I got into photography really as a passport to travel when I was younger - to get access to places and people I wouldn't have come across any other way. I started working in Iceland were I was studying Icelandic on an exchange programme, but I was always drawn to stories involving the ocean, and that was the lead in to the conservation storytelling. I've been lucky to work on a wide range of projects the past few years. From tracking wildlife crime syndicates across Asia and Africa to looking at the battles over resource extraction in West Papua. I recently did an expedition to Siberia where I covered a story on state-sponsored bounty wolf hunting. The wolf numbers have risen so much that it's threatening indigenous reindeer herders. On one recent shoot I got to join the Norwegian coastguard - inspecting fishing vessels in the Arctic.
Wildlife education through photography
Honestly, I think it's very hard. We live in a time where more and more people are disconnecting from the natural world - whether that's moving to cities or spending more time engaged with technology - coupled with the fact that the power of still images has become diluted with so many millions of images being uploaded every day. That said, I still think photography can provide a gateway for bigger impact strategies to reach people. It's still the most effective way to make information campaigns palatable and to encourage people, who might not otherwise be interested, to engage with conservation campaigns.
A lot of my photography work is for WWF and for their campaigns I'm always trying to find a way to put a human face to the figures and policies.
Whilst few young Bajau are now born on boats, the ocean is still very much their playground. And whilst they are getting conflicted messages from their communities, who simultaneously refrain from spitting in the ocean and continue to dynamite its reefs, I still believe they could play a crucial role in the development of western marine conservation practices. Here Enal plays with his pet shark (James Morgan)
I'd love to rekindle people's connection with the natural world - even if just for a moment whilst they are sat at home watching Jago (https://jamesmorgan.co.uk/films/jago-a-life-underwater-teaser/ ) on Netflix - but my aim is really to look at what the change in that connection means. How does it change us as a species as we distance ourselves from the natural world? What will it mean for Homo Sapiens if there are no more elephants, rhinos? How do we react to the ecosystem as it morphs around us? I don't have the answers to these questions but I suspect they're going to become very important.
Jago: A Life Underwater was co-directed by James and tells the story of an 80 year old hunter.