Goss’ photo of of a blue shark
with a rusted hook protruding from its lower jaw won
the grand prize of the Ocean in Focus Conservation Photo
Contest. TerryGoss/Marine Photobank
"The ocean has been an afterthought
for much of our modern culture, and I’m enjoying seeing it come to the
fore again in little ways.”
– Terry Goss
SeaWeb: Congratulations on being
selected as the Marine
Photobank Ocean in Focus conservation photography contest grand prize winner! Tell us about the winning image; can you describe
the situation that you were in while taking this photograph?
Terry Goss: Thanks very much! I am
hugely flattered. This image was taken offshore of southern Rhode
Island, in July of 2011, snorkeling/freediving from a small private
boat. The steel circle hooks with the heavy monofilament lines are
longlines. Longliners’ target may not be sharks – yet all the same, we
can clearly see that the damage is done. Sadly, many of the sharks we
saw had either embedded hooks, or cuts and marks from hooks, lines or
nets – one shark had several plastic box ties wrapped tightly around
his body, and another looked to be recently recovering from having his
jaw ripped open, practically to the gill slits. The photo was shot with
a Nikon D300, with a Nikkor 10.5mm fisheye lens inside an Aquatica
housing, using two Sea & Sea YS90 strobes.
SW: How did you get into underwater
photography? Would you call it a profession, a hobby, or some
combination of the two?
TG: Currently a hobby, but I’ve managed
to license and sell some shots, and have actually managed some print
appearances (still not sure how, but hay!); I also keep an online portfolio. I started
underwater shooting right around the time I started diving in 2006, and
thank goodness for the digital revolution – I can’t imagine what
travelling shooters had to go through with all that film to process.
SW: When did you start taking pictures
related to marine conservation and why did that become a focus for you?
TG: I love the ocean. I always have,
and some of my earliest happy memories are from aquariums and SeaWorld.
When I started shooting underwater, it was immediately apparent that
every shark image I make carries a triple message: 1) look at this
amazing and awesome animal, 2) they are NOT your enemy,and finally, 3)
look at what we’ve done to them and their home. These photos will be
the LAST RECORD of their long existence if we don’t change our ways.
SW: How did you get involved originally
with shark conservation?
TG: I started networking with other
divers and underwater shooters, and with each new trip shared stories
and books and stats and contacts with others. I’ve been donating to
various marine and shark-focused causes as I’m able (I have a list of links on my site!),
and was able to participate in an anti-sharkfin demonstration in San
Francisco’s Chinatown, on Chinese New Year, a while back.
SW: What suggestions do you have for
other photographers that want to use their images to help protect and
conserve the ocean or environment in general?
TG: Show your images, and get them
embedded into people’s consciousness; use the raw power of images to
impress upon people in a very direct and simple yet powerful and even
emotional way. Post to Marine Photobank and Flickr and other sites, and
make or get your own personal site, and keep telling the stories of the
ocean through these images. The ocean has been an afterthought for
much of our modern culture, and I’m enjoying seeing it come to the fore
again in little ways.
SW: Progress has been made for shark
conservation in California, where you live, in the form of a ban on
shark fin trade. What does this say about the movement to protect this
apex predator and what does it signal for the future?
TG: I was amazed – I thought we were
still collectively too jaded to do anything meaningful like this in
such a big way. Jaws really set the tone for how our modern society
considered sharks for most of my life, and yet we’re seeing that
horrible mythology (great movie, horrible subconscious effect) slowly
replaced with the genuine interest, wonder and respect these animals so
deserve. Perhaps there’s hope for us after all!
SW: The winning photograph has earned
you and a friend a 10-day expedition to the Galapagos Islands with
Lindblad Expeditions, the expedition travel company that voyages the
world in alliance with the National Geographic Society to inspire
people to explore and care about the planet. What are you most looking
forward to in the Galapagos?
TG: I have wanted to go there for so
long; it's essentially 'ground zero' for our entire understanding of
evolutionary biology - and there are so many incredible life forms
there, it really speaks to my heavy science interests. We're truly
fortunate in our modern era, to be able to so easily visit and explore
such amazingly remote and exotic places, and I want to take advantage
of that - I can't sit at home, I want to see this whole, teeny, tiny
little rock we all call home, and maybe use my images to impress upon
others the wonder I feel when I see it.
SW: What do you want people to take away
from seeing your winning image?
“Blue sharks are rad," or maybe,
"Sharks rule, it's such a shame he's injured."