As far back as I can remember I have loved nature. Animals, the ocean, forests and jungles--they are all wonderful. As a kid I read books, watched Jacques Cousteau and Wild Kingdom on TV, and bugged my parents to take me to the zoo and the aquarium so I could see the creatures with my own eyes. So I suppose it was only natural than once I grew up I would get SCUBA certified so I could explore the marine world, and study Zoology so I would learn more about the animals I love.
Because I love the natural world so much I want to do what I can to help save it. I feel that by showing others the beauty of nature and the incredible world under the ocean they will be more connected to it. In the words of Baba Dioum, "In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught." My photographs, then, are my way of "teaching" others about what exists, and I hope that will allow them to understand the importance of the natural world and the need to conserve it. I don't stop there, however. I also support organizations working towards conservation. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of agencies worldwide who claim to do conservation work. While I wish I could afford to donate to all the legitimate ones the reality is I cannot. Instead, I do actively support a small handful of organizations with a proven track record of accomplishing important conservation work. Here are the major organizations I support, and the reasons why. If you are at all inclined, I encourage you to donate as well.
WildAid: An international organization working to protect marine and terrestrial species and ecosystems. WildAid does a lot of work in China--ground-zero for items like shark fin, tiger parts, and trafficking in endangered animals--and is starting to see a shift in local attitudes and a reduction in demand for these items as a result of their work.
Defenders of Wildlife: Their work is done within the United States, and focuses on defending and strengthening environmental protections, including the Endangered Species Act. In addition to public education programs, Defenders does a lot of work in the courtroom, acting, as they put it, "as legal counsel on behalf of a population segment that cannot act for itself, North America’s wildlife."
Sea Shepherd: Many think of Sea Shepherd as a radical organization, and in some ways this is true because they are actually out there preventing poaching and illegal fishing. They act in accordance with various international treaties and charters so as not to be in violation of any laws. Since their inception they have prevented the deaths of thousands of whales by illegal hunting in Antarctica; worked closely with the Ecuadorian government to prevent illegal fishing in the Galapagos; monitored, photographed, and informed the world of the annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan; and much more.
PRETOMA: A Costa Rican organization working towards the protection of sharks and sea turtles. PRETOMA has worked on conservation projects, public campaigns, local legislation, and international conventions, such as CITES.
Turtle Island Restoration Network: TIRN works not only to protect sea turtles, but also sharks, salmon, and other marine creatures. They also work in partnership with PRETOMA to organize volunteer diving expeditions to Cocos Island, Costa Rica, to tag and track sharks and sea turtles. I have gone on several expeditions with them in the past, and hope to do more in the future.