It’s one thing to take a snapshot of a turtle and call yourself a conservation photographer. It’s quite another to combine a graduate degree in marine conservation from Scipps Institute of Oceanography with powerful imagery to prevent a construction of a Mexican marina that threatened to wipe out a crucial sea turtle nesting site.
That’s what makes Ralph Pace a true conservation photographer—the appreciation that such efforts rely on an understanding of the economics of marine resources, local cultural practices, as well as beautiful imagery. And Ralph’s portfolio has no shortage of the latter.
From teaming up with NOAA researchers to document the world’s first-known warm-blooded fish to photographing the National Marine Fisheries Service tagging the first loggerhead turtle off the west coast, Ralph is constantly blending science with art.
Adam Kaeser, a California Department of Fish and Wildlife scientist releases a tagged 90lb gulf sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) in Apalachicola, Florida. Throughout their range they are endangered due to overfishing in the 20th century. The important work of these scientists has facilitated better management of their habitats that has allowed their populations to rebound. There are roughly 400 individuals in the Apalachicola River today. However, dams still remain that block sturgeon from their historic spawning sites
A diver watches as a vortex of bigeye trevally (Caranx sexfasciatus) congregate in Cabo Pulmo Marine Reserve in Southern Baja, Mexico. In 1995, the traditional fishing village stopped their fishing methods and focused on the protection of their marine environment. With the biomass having bounced back nearly 500%, Cabo Pulmo is now a world class diving destination
This approximately 130lb opah, or moonfish (Lampris guttatus), lives between 300 to 800 feet deep. A recent article by NOAA shows opah have a unique set of gills and have regional endothermy that allows them to increase their core temperature 3–6 degrees Celsius
A researcher from the Sea Turtle Conservancy measures the straight carapace length (SCL) of a nesting green turtle (Chelonia mynas) in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. This and other biometric data are recorded and used to monitor the health of the nesting population
Researchers from Pfleger Institute of Environment Research prepare a swordfish (Xiphias gladius) to be tagged
An early morning surfer rides a perfect wave in San Diego, California
Coco swims away with her new satellite transmitter that will hopefully last for six months. The next six months of satellite data will allow scientists to better understand how loggerheads are using the SoCal Bight (Image taken under NMFS permit # 14510)
For more of Ralph’s images and conservation stories, make sure to visit his official website, www.RalphPace.com.