As a scuba diver and photographer, I've spent a third of my life exploring the underwater world and documenting its beauty. From remote tropical islands to the cool waters of the Pacific Northwest, I've traveled far and wide to capture stunning images of marine life and ecosystems.
One of the highlights of my career was working with Paul Nicklen, a world-renowned wildlife photographer and conservationist. I joined the Sealegacy crew on the east coast of Panama in November 2021, and for three months straight, we were in the water most days, filming, assembling camera gear, flying drones, interviewing local communities, and sailing to the Pacific coast across the Panama Canal.
Our mission was to document the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands and provide images to help expand the largest marine reserve in the world. During our time together, Paul Nicklen was always there to encourage me and remind me of the potential of my macro photography skills.
Spending 24/7 together on a sailboat, we worked tirelessly to capture the best images and footage possible. And through this intense collaboration, I found myself forming deep friendships with Paul, Mitty, Shelton, and the rest of the crew.
We eventually decided to combine our images and create a masterpiece together: The Neon Nights episode for Sealegacy Sea of Hope.
An extraordinary and unique way of filming at night, using blue lights to create the most fluorescent images of the underwater world.
The reef was glowing in a magical way, with psychedelic colors that could never be seen during the day.
Even animals like nudibranchs and moray eels were glowing, creating a real-life Avatar-like experience.
Combining different filters on different macro lenses and adjusting the camera's white balance, I was able to capture the same colours on my footage. It was the perfect material we needed to bring back with us to create this piece and show the world.
Our work together reminded me of how little we know about our oceans and how much is still out there for us to discover. The ocean is a source of inspiration, and it's our goal to use it to bring awareness to people about the importance of ocean conservation.
Over my 4,000 dives, I've witnessed firsthand the decline of once-healthy ecosystems, and it's heartbreaking to see them collapse. To protect our oceans and marine life, we need to raise awareness about the threats they face.
From overfishing and pollution to climate change and ocean acidification, there are many environmental challenges that we need to address.
As individuals, we can make a difference by reducing our plastic consumption, supporting sustainable fishing practices, and advocating for stronger environmental protections at the policy level.
In conclusion, my experience working with Paul Nicklen and the Sealegacy crew was an unforgettable experience that reminded me of the importance of using photography and filmmaking to inspire others to care about our oceans and marine life.
Marcelo Johan Ogata