Today, June 8th is World Oceans Day.
The ocean has always been a major part of my life.
I was born in Brittany, France, a peninsula that extends out into the Atlantic Ocean. A region encircled by a rugged coastline, the ocean was an important feature in the lives of all its residents- after all, two of the things that we are famous for in Brittany are our seafood and our sea salt.
When I was 25, I started my career as a triathlete. Triathlons consist of 3 different sections- swimming, cycling, and running. Most times, the swimming section of the race happens in open waters, like in the sea.
Practicing for or competing in these triathlons meant that I spent a fair amount of time swimming in most of the waters of our oceans.
To further my career as a triathlete, I then moved to San Diego, in the United States, where I lived for 6 years. During this time, I lived next to the Pacific Ocean in one of the most famous coastal areas in the world- California.
Then came one of the earliest and biggest turning points in my photography career, where I produced my first independent documentary series and saw it exhibited at the Fullerton Hotel Singapore.
I was in Jeju Island, a volcanic island located southwest of South Korea, where I had traveled for a competition. I took this chance to photograph the Haenyo, or women divers, of Jeju, and spent time with them in and out of the water as they dived for fresh seafood from the ocean floor.
Now, I live and work in my own photography studio in Singapore, a tropical island along the equator.
I live with my lovely wife on the East Coast of the country, and not far from my house is the largest recreational beach in Singapore, in the bustling East Coast Park- which I often pass by, and it reminds of all the things the oceans have seen me through.
However, I fear that the oceans as we know them may become irreversibly damaged from our disregard for the natural environment.
The oceans, like many areas of the Earth, are under threat by human actions.
Overfishing, plastic pollution, chemical pollution, habitat destruction, and changes in water temperature are just a few of the issues that are destroying our oceans.
We are seeing a serious amount of impact occurring on the diversity and health of the inhabitants of the oceans.
At this point in time, overfishing has driven over ⅓ of fish stocks to be depleted to unsustainable levels.
Global warming has caused higher temperatures in the ocean waters, causing mass events of coral bleaching all over the world.
According to Energy Observer, over 100,000 sea turtles and marine mammals are killed by macroplastics polluting the oceans each year. For sea birds, the number is a conservative estimate of 1 million birds that are killed by macroplastic pollution. This does not even touch on the effect of microplastics in our oceans, which have more far-reaching impacts that travel up the food chain to even the top land-dwelling predators, i.e. us humans.
It is clear that we have to make a change.
Sustainable practices like recycling plastic, reducing plastic use, eating sustainably caught seafood, reducing food waste, and boycotting products that endanger wildlife are a few ways that we can help save our oceans.
During this World Oceans Day, I’d like to dedicate a tribute to the oceans who have always played such a vital role throughout the phases of my life, and remind all of us to live our lives in a more mindful manner, so that the vitality and beauty of the oceans will still remain to watch over the future generations.
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