Caring for conservation: the value of imagery

FinPrint Spotlight

PeterVerhoog_portrait-286x300Author: Peter Verhoog

Where to find his work: Underwater PhotographyDutch Shark Society

Sampling Location: Maldives

I am passionate about marine life, and I just love sharks. One of my favourite jobs is documenting shark and ray research in the field.

I have worked with Dr. Mark Meekan on the sharks of Palau, the manta rays of Hanifaru and the whale sharks of Ningaloo Reef. When he asked me to join the Global FinPrint expedition in the Maldives, I was over the moon. I love discovering new projects and research methods, and am always keen on understanding the science.

BRUV on reef

BRUV on reef

Global FinPrint is an extremely valuable project because of its scale and reach. This mission yielded visuals that will help communicate the project’s scientific and conservation message to a wide audience.

Peter waiting near a BRUV

Peter waiting near a BRUV

 

As a conservation photographer, I had to work around the baited remote underwater video set-ups without interfering with the research goals. I had to strategically choose a location for each dive that would not disrupt the fish attracted to the area. There are at least 500 meters between each BRUV, and I could not swim from one set-up to the other.

Nature is an additional challenge to our work because it is unpredictable and you never know where sharks and rays, my favourite subjects, will turn up. I did not see them every dive, but was able to capture some exciting pictures and footage.

I did have some unexpected encounters that I thoroughly enjoyed and after over 35 years of diving were a ‘first’ for me, like the one with a sailfish and with pink whiprays (check out the footage below).

 

 

I first dived the Maldives in 1990, and had great memories of the trips I made, the richness of the reefs, and the large predators on every dive. Like many other countries, Maldives is highly dependent on marine resources and tourism, and just like in many other places, there has been overfishing. It is therefore wonderful to see that the Maldivian government gave Global FinPrint the opportunity to document the reefs and its inhabitants, so that conservation regulations for the future can be established.

Bleached reef

 

 

What particularly struck me was the coral bleaching in the Maldives. This has become a widespread global problem. It is my hope that the reefs can and will recover so that all marine life can thrive in the area.

 

 

 

 

The atmosphere on board was great, and it was wonderful to meet great marine scientists. For me, it was a privilege to be a member of the Global FinPrint team!

 

BRUV

Peter Verhoog

You can find BRUV highlights from this mission below:

A special thanks to Vulcan, Inc., the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Pew Global Shark Campaign, the Maldivian government, Atoll Editions, and the crew aboard the Conte Max for making this mission possible.

 

Global FinPrint

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