Friday, March 29, 2013


Two of the world’s top nature photographers are mounting a 2-week expedition in April to help draw international attention on the unique but endangered Danajon Bank in the Philippines.

Tyler Stiem, a spokesman for Project Seahorse, a marine conservation organization based at the University of British Columbia in Canada, emailed this blogger about the upcoming mission. Photographers Thomas Peschak and Luciano Candisani join Project Seahorse scientists studying the country’s only double barrier reef April 5-15.

The scientific team reportedly includes Dr. Amanda Vincent and Dr. Heather Koldeway of Project Seahorse and the Zoological Society of London.

The 135 kilometer-long Danajon Bank stretches north of Bohol, between Cebu and Samar islands in the Visayas. It’s home to more than 200 species of coral reefs, over 500 fish species and hectares upon hectares of ecologically important sea grass and mangroves. It is only one of three double barrier reefs in the Indo-Pacific region (from the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean and onto the Pacific) and one of only six in the world.

Various species roaming the vastness of the Pacific Ocean are believed to have evolved at Danajon Bank. It is home to at least 200 threatened animals, including the elusive tiger-tail seahorse.

“The photos will be turned into a series of photo exhibits that will travel around the world,” Stiem wrote, “to promote conservation of this ecologically important region of central Philippines.”

Peschak is a retired marine biologist who’s now a contributing photographer to National Geographic Magazine. He was recently named one of the 40 most influential nature photographers in the world, producing three books – Currents of Contrast, Great White Shark and Wild Seas Secret Shores. He describes himself as a nomad, spending most of the year on assignments.

“There really is no better way to communicate the urgent need for marine conservation than through images that hit you in the head and the heart,” Peschak averred.

Candisani has been taking pictures of wildlife since
1996. The Brazilian photojournalist has decided to devote his life to promoting biodiversity and conservation, his works often featured in National Geographic, GEO and BBC Wildlife. He has worked with primates in Brazilian rain forests to the Rocas Atoll in the Atlantic. He has produced at least 5 photographic books, including the latest “Jubarte” about humpback whales released in 2010.

They hope to show the photographs in public exhibits at aquariums in Chicago, Hongkong, Manila and London by June. Project Seahorse also plans to publish them in a new book about conservation efforts at Danajon Bank.

The expedition is a collaboration of Project Seahorse and the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) to help raise awareness of the threats against the Danajon Bank. They are hoping the Philippine government will improve protection of the threatened reefs.

Since the 1950s, fishermen have been practicing destructive fishing methods in the bank, destroying from 10 to 30 percent of coral reefs a year, according to Project Seahorse social development officer Rosemarie Apurado.

Thanks to the work of Project Seahorse, other non-government organizations and local communities, at least 35 areas of Danajon Bank have been set aside as marine sanctuaries.

US energy multinational Chevron has contributed millions of pesos to support these sanctuaries that educate local fishermen, preserve the marine habitat and promote ecotourism as an alternative source of livelihood for Filipinos who rely on Danajon Bank for livelihood and survival.

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