Secrets of our waters on display

2015-09-08 06:00
Photographer Mac Stone explores the relationship between sharks and humans, as well as the work of the Shark Spotters, through striking images such as this one, which is on display on the Muizenberg catwalk this week.

PHOTO: 
save our seas founda

Photographer Mac Stone explores the relationship between sharks and humans, as well as the work of the Shark Spotters, through striking images such as this one, which is on display on the Muizenberg catwalk this week. PHOTO: save our seas founda

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Take a peak under the sea as two international photographers capture the secrets of our deep.

Work by Joris van Alphen and Mac Stone will be on display on the Muizenberg catwalk this week, as part of the third biennial Shark and Ray Symposium.

Van Alphen’s exhibition transports visitors underwater to see False Bay’s rocky reefs and kelp forests and meet the charismatic reef fishes of these habitats. His images also give you a glimpse into the history of fishing in False Bay and the colourful characters who engage in this activity recreationally and for their livelihoods.

Stone’s exhibition depicts the delicate balance between people and sharks in False Bay. It introduces visitors to a few of the bay’s shark species, shedding a different light on these beautiful and diverse creatures, their relationship with us, and the Shark Spotters who are working to keep them all safe.

The photographers are recipients of the Marine Conservation Photography grant, which is awarded annually to emerging young conservation photographers. The grant was launched by the Save our Seas Foundation last year.

The Foundation wants powerful images to tell important conservation stories.

“We fund some of the most creative and well-known marine scientists who are battling major conservation issues ranging from establishing marine protected areas to safeguarding endangered species. The Marine Conservation Photography Grant winners work with our project leaders to tell stories that drive conservation change. By harnessing the Foundation’s skills in conservation media, we want to mentor, uplift and drive the next generation of conservation photographers,” says Save Our Seas Foundation spokesperson Jade Schultz.

Van Alphen, from the Netherlands, says many of the reef fishes that live here are found only in South Africa.

“False Bay is particularly special, because it lies at the intersection of major currents coming from the Atlantic and the Indian oceans. Species normally found only in the colder waters to the east, and those in the warmer waters to the west, occur together in False Bay. This makes it an exceptionally diverse and beautiful place. I have never seen anything like it. I can’t stress enough how unique it is,” he says.

He hopes to highlight overfishing in the bay, which despite often being associated with large-scale industrial fishing, is also rooted in fishing methods like angling or spearfishing when targeting fish living on reefs.

“The problem is that these species often take many years before they are old enough to reproduce. On top of that most of them are territorial. This makes them extremely sensitive to overfishing. And once overfished, a reef takes decades to recover. This is why no-take zones are essential to the health of the fish stocks. False Bay is in urgent need of more no-take zones, and better enforcement. The collapse of these species is not just a tragedy for the environment, but also for the people that depend on them for food and income,” he says.

Based in Florida in the United States, Stone says sharks have the terrible misfortune of being feared, hated and tragically misunderstood.

“Yet these endemic sharks are every bit as iconic as their celebrated terrestrial counterparts. Many residents around False Bay never get the chance to see all the incredible wildlife that lives just beneath the surface but they deserve praise all their own,” he says.

“I want the residents of False Bay to be proud of the world-class treasure that is their backyard. Shark Spotters is an important step in this direction. False Bay is setting a global example of what can be accomplished through sound conservation policies to establish and maintain a healthy balance between their natural and cultural heritage. My hope is that these images help reveal the tenuous interface between wilderness and civilization and the gracefulness with which South Africa is handling this.”

Schultz hopes the exhibition will spark conservation action among those viewing the photos, such as choosing to eat only sustainably sourced seafood.

“We are hoping that the exhibition will raise awareness about the unique, but delicate, biodiversity that exists beneath the waves in False Bay,” she says.

Take a peak under the sea as two international photographers capture the secrets of our deep.

Work by Joris van Alphen and Mac Stone will be on display on the Muizenberg catwalk this week, as part of the third biennial Shark and Ray Symposium.

Van Alphen’s exhibition transports visitors underwater to see False Bay’s rocky reefs and kelp forests and meet the charismatic reef fishes of these habitats. His images also give you a glimpse into the history of fishing in False Bay and the colourful characters who engage in this activity recreationally and for their livelihoods.

Stone’s exhibition depicts the delicate balance between people and sharks in False Bay.

It introduces visitors to a few of the bay’s shark species, shedding a different light on these beautiful and diverse creatures, their relationship with us, and the Shark Spotters who are working to keep them all safe.

The photographers are recipients of the Marine Conservation Photography grant, which is awarded annually to emerging young conservation photographers.

The grant was launched by the Save our Seas Foundation last year. The Foundation wants powerful images to tell important conservation stories.

“We fund some of the most creative and well-known marine scientists who are battling major conservation issues ranging from establishing marine protected areas to safeguarding endangered species. The Marine Conservation Photography Grant winners work with our project leaders to tell stories that drive conservation change.

“By harnessing the Foundation’s skills in conservation media, we want to mentor, uplift and drive the next generation of conservation photographers,” says Save Our Seas Foundation spokesperson Jade Schultz.

Van Alphen, from the Netherlands, says many of the reef fishes that live here are found only in South Africa.

“False Bay is particularly special, because it lies at the intersection of major currents coming from the Atlantic and the Indian oceans,” he says.

“Species normally found only in the colder waters to the east, and those in the warmer waters to the west, occur together in False Bay. This makes it an exceptionally diverse and beautiful place.

“I have never seen anything like it. I can’t stress enough how unique it is,” he says.

He hopes to highlight overfishing in the bay, which despite often being associated with large-scale industrial fishing, is also rooted in fishing methods like angling or spearfishing when targeting fish living on reefs.

“The problem is that these species often take many years before they are old enough to reproduce. On top of that most of them are territorial. This makes them extremely sensitive to overfishing. And once overfished, a reef takes decades to recover. This is why no-take zones are essential to the health of the fish stocks. False Bay is in urgent need of more no-take zones, and better enforcement. The collapse of these species is not just a tragedy for the environment, but also for the people that depend on them for food and income,” he says.

Based in Florida in the United States, Stone says sharks have the terrible misfortune of being feared, hated and tragically misunderstood.

“Yet these endemic sharks are every bit as iconic as their celebrated terrestrial counterparts. Many residents around False Bay never get the chance to see all the incredible wildlife that lives just beneath the surface but they deserve praise all their own,” he says.

“I want the residents of False Bay to be proud of the world-class treasure that is their backyard. Shark Spotters is an important step in this direction. False Bay is setting a global example of what can be accomplished through sound conservation policies to establish and maintain a healthy balance between their natural and cultural heritage. My hope is that these images reveal the tenuous interface between wilderness and civilisation and the gracefulness with which South Africa is handling this.”

Schultz hopes the photos will spark conservation action among viewers, like choosing to eat sustainably sourced seafood.
“We are hoping that the exhibition will raise awareness about the unique, but delicate, biodiversity that exists beneath the waves in False Bay,” she says.


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