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Underwater Photography Tells The Sad Tale Of The Ocean's Plight
By Jason Heller, August 25, 2009 @ 04:42 PM (EST)

As underwater photographers, we travel far and wide for the privilege of unique encounters with marine life.  When the encounters and conditions all come together, we sometimes even have the opportunity to capture outstanding images of nature at its purest.

We constantly hear about all of the issues with overfishing, bottom trawling, shark finning and by-catch. But when you encounter these issues firsthand while underwater, you are awakened to the pain and suffering associated with these practices.

Such was the situation recently for our friend and colleague, Tony Wu.

Injured Humpback Whale

For the last few years Tony has been focusing on capturing some of the best images of humpback whales I have ever seen.

Unfortunately,  Tony recently encountered the savage results of discarded long lines in the waters near Tonga. I can't even imagine what it would be like to see such a sight - a large female humpback whale entangled in fishing gear. This was a guaranteed slow and painful death sentence for this graceful gentle giant.

As you can see in the image, the whale is entangled to the point where she cannot swim properly, and after tiring or dying will be an easy target for predators, specifically large sharks. "We were first approached by three medium-sized bronze whaler sharks.  They are normally not a problem but soon after a 3.5 meter tiger shark approached, shooting up from the murky bottom at high speed. At that point, I decided it was best to leave. Limited visibility and  hungry sharks waiting for easy prey was not a good time to be in the  water."

This is just one example of our impact on the oceans. Long line fishing is a wasteful and cruel practice. 

Do you have any images documenting the wasteful reults of long lining or other fishing practices? Create a gallery in your DPG profile called "conservation", and upload images that include the tag "wasteful". We are the ocean's eyes and ears, let's keep documenting the damage. Hopefully we can help do something about it.

You can read more at the Daily Mail in the UK, who ran a story on Tony's experience.

Additionally, you can also read updates and see more images from Tonga on Tony's blog.


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