coral seas and coral death

When I first started taking photos of coral landscapes, I saw it as a colourful, magical world. Over the last few years, coral bleaching has been ubiquitous. The photos here show the beauty of some intact systems, but then move on – later in the series – to fish left in deserts of bleached or bombed corals. Bleaching is an effect of ocean warming (or cooling) events that take temperatures above or below the range that coral systems have adapted to. These events occur with higher frequency than they used to, because of climate change.

Coral substrate destruction by dynamite, on the other hand, is a side effect of blast fishing, a highly destructive fishing method whereby explosives are thrown onto the coral substrate to kill indiscriminately all fish in the area. Some of the dead fish bodies rise to the surface, where they get scooped up by the fishermen, others sink to the ground, having died a pointless death. In some of the worst-affected countries, blast fishing incurs harsh penalties, but many of the fishermen who employ it are themselves in dire circumstances, and so programs to end this terrible practice have to deal with complex situations. To see a bigger slideshow of the pictures please click on one.

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