15 Sep 2015

The magic and misery of the ocean

From Nine To Noon, 10:12 am on 15 September 2015

Underwater photojournalist Brian Skerry has spent the last 30 years documenting the beauty of the ocean and its marine life.

But increasingly his pictures serve another purpose - to highlight the environmental issues of our oceans and waterways.

The US-based National Geographic photographer has worked all over the world, including in New Zealand, and published five books and won numerous awards.

He began diving aged 15, and has described working for National Geographic as a dream come true. Over the years, he has also had a few close calls - like getting lost under polar ice and having to find his way out of a closed hole.

Speaking from his latest shoot location in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, he told Nine to Noon's Kathryn Ryan that New Zealand's approach to marine conservation was ahead of many other countries.

"There's certainly big problems everywhere, but New Zealand, in my estimation, has always been progressive in terms of taking a conservation approach - certainly with the EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) and trying to create replenishment zones."

He said the world's oceans were unable to cope with the cumulative effect of climate change (including acidification), pollution and overfishing.

"The oceans are suffering - or dying a death of a thousand cuts," he said.

"The ocean is quite resilient, it is quite vast, it can deal with a lot of things that we do to it - but the culmination, the cumulative effect of all of these things, is showing some serious signs of distress."

Mr Skerry will be visiting New Zealand next month.