As an award winning photographer and cameraman I have dived and worked in amazing places like South Africa, Egypt and South East Asia. One of the biggest concerns which is painfully evident in all these locations is the impact the travel, sporting and dive industry has on the fragile marine ecosystems they utilize to sustain and grow their businesses.
The influx of tourists to previously pristine and untouched locations is greatly affected by a modern age where travel has become increasingly more affordable and accessible even to remote parts of the world. Most recreational sport divers pride themselves on being responsible ambassadors of the underwater world, but sadly damage is still being inflicted on fragile reefs and marine life throughout the worlds oceans in places where standards go unchecked and the sheer volume of people visiting a specific location inadvertently leaves a trail of devastation.
Plastic litters the shores of the legendary 'Blue Hole' in Dahab, Egypt
Looking at the picture as a whole, it is also important to understand how dive tourism can have a seemingly less direct impact, yet even more damaging than that which is inflicted by recreational water users. A location which in years past was nothing more than a secluded village, island, or at times so remote that no human had any reason to be there, when dive tourism puts a location like this 'on the map' it leads to further developments. This usually takes the form of restaurants, hotels, supermarkets and a whole host of other facilities which provide services to cater for visiting divers and tourists. This increase in human activity is inadvertently fueled by easier routes and means to access these places for tourists (flights, ferries, buses etc) as well as by locals flocking to a new tourist 'hot spot' in order to find work or establish businesses to gain from this new opportunity. Although this has great benefits for the country and its economy, the direct result in most of these locations (especially in underdeveloped countries) is a massive spike in the waste being produced and in most cases this ends up as pollution in the oceans they are surrounded by.
Freediver and Green Turtle - An increase in water users also has a huge impact on which marine life frequents these marine ecosystems. An example is Shark Observatory, Ras Mohammed National Park where in earlier years the site was named for the sharks congregating in the area. Today, due to the thousands of divers/snorkelers and high dive boat traffic in the area every year, the odds of seeing a shark is next to zero.
With this project I aim to create a visual report of how this increase in tourist traffic to popular dive locations has affected the marine ecosystem by comparing some of the most visited recreational dive sites in the world (ex: Red Sea - Egypt, Thailand and Philippines) to much more remote and less frequented locations like those around the pristine Solomon Islands. Using both film and photographic images I intend to create a high impact, yet very simple side by side comparison for people to understand how irreversible the impact tourism has on our ever diminishing reefs and marine life. This will hopefully help drive the movement towards more Marine Protected Areas (MPA's) and better management and practices by all stakeholders in the dive industry.
In order to assure circulation and reach, the video will be made available through social media like Facebook, Vimeo and Youtube while a photographic project will be compiled and sent to various media outlets as well as being made available online.
Broken coral (seen scattered on the ground in this photo) has become common sight at 'easy' dive sites like this one in the Red Sea. A direct result of the high volume of inexperienced and neglectful divers visiting the Red Sea every day...
By Supporting This Project You Will Help By:
- creating awareness on an international level
- educating those who utilize our oceans for recreational purposes to make informed decisions and develop responsible in-water practices.
- supporting the backing for marine protected areas and better management of our oceans resources.
- helping to support better business practices and more responsible environmental management by businesses in these locations.
Record Freediver Linda Paganelli near Dahab, Egypt.
What We Need & What You Get
The cost of travel to planned locations is extremely high, especially more remote areas like the Solomon Islands. Planned locations are Thailand, South Africa, Philippines, Egypt (Sinai and Marsa Alam area), Bahamas and Solomon Islands. Flight tickets and luggage cost for camera equipment alone for the intend route is in excess of 8200 USD. In addition to this the insurance, accommodation, gear rental, dive operator expenses etc has been estimated to be around 8000 USD. For the use of this project one additional DSLR camera body will be purchased (2800 USD) along with some peripherals like additional storage media drives/cards, camera flight case etc. The cost of the whole project in terms of expenses was calculated to be an estimated 21 500 USD. The balance of 10000 USD was added to cover costs for editing, commission fees (ex: Paypal, Indiegogo) and to cover any unforeseen expenses.
The final project is scheduled to be completed by April 2014 but will keep running to address issues where possible.
Perks will include first access to the final project as well as vouchers and products from jdvos.com.
Should the entire goal not be reached, the project will still continue as planned over a longer timeframe and funds will be used to visit those locations which the available funding permits.
Tek Divers surrounds Record Freediver Lotta Ericon, Red Sea
As an award winning photographer and cameraman I specialize in underwater photography and video (all done while Freediving – on a single breath). I am also a certified Commercial Diver and Recreational scuba and Freediving Instructor.
During filming for the Red Bull documentary of Freediver Annelie Pompe's world record attempt in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
My work is internationally recognized and my most recent achievements and projects are listed below:
- Awarded 4th Place - Best Of Photography 2012 by Serbin, Sigma, Photographers Forum on November 2012
- Awarded Wide Angle - Gold by Dive Resort & Travel Underwater Photographic Competition on July 2012
- Awarded Gold by Our World Underwater on February 2012
- Underwater Cameraman: Red Bull Documentary (2012 and 2013) - Annelie Pompe Freediving Record
- Underwater Cameraman: BBC - To Bodly Go Episode 1
- Canon Professional Network: Developed the first broadcast quality underwater camera system around the 5DmkIII.
More of my work can also be viewed at www.jdvos.com
Other Ways You Can Help
If you cannot help with money, please let others know about this campaign and feel free to forward information on topics related to this issue. Thank you for your support in creating awareness!