Coral, Fire and Ice

Hear stories from National Geographic’s underwater photographer David Doubilet about exploring 'a world more alien than the edges of space' and redefining the boundaries of the human conception of the ocean.
Diana Clarke
Published on May 08, 2014


Hold onto your seats, I am about to blow your mind.

So apparently 50-80% of all life on earth is found in the ocean. And the oceans contain 99% of the living space on the planet.
And less than 10% of that space has been explored by humans. There are currently an estimated 212,906 named marine species. But, taking into account all that extra ocean that hasn't been explored, there may be as many as 25 million marine species. That means we only know of about 0.8% of the marine species that are out there. 0.8% is a pretty small percentage.  Kaboom.

David Doubilet, National Geographic’s underwater photographer hopes to increase that minute proportion by capturing images of the unseen and the unknown. His self-professed goal is to “redefine photographic boundaries” under the ocean’s surface. This has been his goal for 56 years, ever since he began shooting underwater with a Brownie Hawkeye camera at age twelve. He first shot for National Geographic in 1970, and has been linked with the magazine since. Doubilet has explored the depths of the northwest Atlantic, Scotland, Tasmania, Japan and New Zealand. He had produced several books and won a range of awards for his adventure photography.

In the Coral, Fire & Ice tour, the explorer plans to share his stories of ocean discovery across three continents. Firstly, Kimbe Bay of Papua New Guinea which is considered the centre of the world in terms of marine biodiversity, a place Doubilet considers “more alien than the edges of space.” Then he will delve into Antarctica, describing the marine life in the icy waters of the south, including leopard seals and penguins. The photographic odyssey will finish up in Canada, where he captured whales, salmon and harp seals.

The aim of his talk is to make people more aware of the marine life. Both the 0.8% we know and love, as well as the 99.2% that we have never laid eyes upon. Doubilet wants to create a photographic voice for the marine life, to connect people to the devastation happening to the oceans with the changing climate.

Get ready to be moved. And sorry if your head is still hurting from all those percentages that I used to explode your brain back there.


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