SeaWeb's Marine Photobank and Project AWARE Foundation
Announce the 2nd Annual
Ocean in Focus
Conservation Photography Contest
2008 Grand Prize Winner
A California Sea Lion Drowned in a Gill Net
Santa Barbara, California, US
Tom Campbell, (c) Save Our Seas, Ltd./Marine Photobank
SeaWeb’s Marine Photobank and Project AWARE Foundation are teaming up once again to bring you the 2nd Annual Ocean in Focus Conservation Photography Contest. We challenge ocean lovers worldwide to submit their most compelling marine conservation images to this one-of-a-kind photo contest.
Focusing on conservation photography—an emerging area of nature photography—this contest seeks to uncover conservation issues and depict human impacts (positive and negative) on our marine ecosystems. This contest aims to capture these truths and to inspire action among its participants and viewers.
Conservation photographers worldwide are taking this opportunity to illuminate ocean pressures and challenges as well as solutions. Contest entries may depict environmental issues including, but not limited to: unsustainable fishing practices, pollution and debris, ocean dumping, oil spills, global warming, the effects of sea level rise, coastal development and endangered and threatened marine animals and ecosystems.
Images illustrating the human conservation efforts implemented in local communities to combat ocean degradation are also strongly encouraged. These may include beach and oil spill cleanups, educational community events, creative recycling, removal of derelict fishing gear, marine species rehabilitation and more.
The contest will run from World Oceans Day, June 8, 2009, until August 27, 2009. Images submitted to the contest will not appear in the Marine Photobank galleries until after the photos have been judged and the winners announced.
Tom Campbell's Grand Prize Photo:
Tom Campbell, filmmaker and photographer, and fellow filmmaker and photographer Howard Hall were commissioned to shoot a film in the Channel islands of Southern California, US. Their first project was to capture imagery of the drift nets, once common throughout the Santa Barbara Channel, which separates the Channel Islands from the mainland. Diving 100 feet below the surface in an area where the seafloor was more than 5,000 feet below them, they were horrified by the sight. Dolphins, seal lions, whales and anything that swam into these nets, which could stretch for a mile, were caught and drowned.
Soon after they began shooting images, fishermen found out about their activities and were not pleased with the attention that their fishing activities were attracting. This did not deter Tom and his partner. Trained as a military diver, Tom set up a night time operation where he would dive after midnight to avoid drawing the attention of the fishermen. Eventually the fishermen found out about his night time activities. As a result, they Tom and Howard were harassed and even received death threats. Undeterred, they continued to capture images and footage of the gruesome death.
"I took this shot at 4am. Light was starting to come up from beneath," said Campbell of his winning photo. "This was an animal that was struggling to get to the surface for a breath of air and finally succumbed to its entanglement in the net."
"I can tell you this shot has done something for the environment," said Campbell. As a result of this and his other photos, legislation was passed to stop this destructive practice. "It was one of the pictures used to restrict the use of gill nets in the Channels Islands."
Contest Sponsored By:
Thank You to Our Prize Donors!