The "Turtle in Trouble" image that spearheads our OceanPositive campaign is an evocative one that elicits a complex emotional response in many people: how can the photographer take the photos? How can we as humans justify this? What can we do?
We caught up with the photographer to ask him a few questions about capturing such a powerful image.
I am Jordi Chias (41), I was born in Barcelona and have worked as a professional photographer since 1998. I've been always specialized in marine themes mostly underwater. I started as a staff photographer in a well-known diving magazine in Spain but I became freelance in 2003. Since then I made my living by selling underwater images. I've been published in many diving magazines around the world (Dive UK, Sport Diver USA, Scuba Diving USA, Tauchen, Unterwasser, Plongee Mag France, etc) and some important publications such as GEO, Terre Sauvage, Focus and National Geographic Spain. My images have won awards in some of the most important Photo Contests like the BBC Wildlife Photographer of Year (where I got eight mentions in the last 10 years).
In the last years I have spent a lot of time offshore, looking for pelagic animals and I have found many situations like this, many worse than this, as the animals were already dead. Offshore wildlife suffers from being unknown by most of us; if we do not see it we don't care about it!
I was sailing through the Balearic Channel, between Barcelona and Mallorca, when I met the turtle.
The sea was quite flat, and we spotted a big drifting device on the surface. I always check any drifting thing to be sure that there is nothing on it. When I was near it, I realised that a turtle was trapped in the net and it was having difficulty breathing.
I took about a dozen pictures quickly, and after that we pulled the net onboard the boat. It took us more than 20 minutes to cut the net and free the turtle. Once the turtle was untangled we checked it and took the decision to set it free because we were too far from the shore; it was midsummer and too hot so I was afraid to cause more problems to the turtle if we brought it ashore to the veterinarian. When we set the turtle free we checked if it was ok, and it was! It swam away as fast as it was able.
I see a lot of rubbish when I go offshore, almost everyday I have found many turtles (and other animals) with different sort fishing devices on them, from hooks to nets. We must take action now! We should find some degradable material to use instead of nylon in any fishing device to avoid the bycatch when they are lost in the sea. We must understand that any lost or abandoned fishing device continues to kill marine animals for decades.
Jordi's website can be found at www.uwaterphoto.com
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