Facing Extinction

 

Nature is declining at rates unprecedented in human history. In this ongoing project we want to capture what could be gone in the near future.

Extinction is forever

The rate of extinction has increased by a hundredfold over the last 100 years. Much of the world’s wildlife is now under threat. It is estimated that one-third of animal and plant species could be gone in the next 50 years. Photographing these animals in the wild is a humbling experience, especially since humans are responsible for the many challenges they face.

ABOVE: An endangered Green turtle

Sea turtles are the living representatives of a group of reptiles that has existed on Earth and traveled our seas for the last 100 million years. Their numbers have declined bij 80% in the last 100 years.

Seven different species of sea (or marine) turtles grace our ocean waters, from the shallow seagrass beds of the Indian Ocean, to the colorful reefs of the Coral Triangle and the sandy beaches of the Eastern Pacific. Nearly all species of sea turtle are now classified as endangered, with three of the seven existing species being critically endangered.

ABOVE: Gracefully an Oceanic Manta Ray takes a look at the camera. Their curious and social behaviour is a sign of their superior intelligence.

Angels of the ocean

Every family has an overachiever. For fish, that title goes to manta rays. They’re giant, social, charismatic and intelligent. Graceful and elegant in it’s movement, the Manta Ray is considered the “Angel of the ocean”.

Mantas have huge brains that are especially developed in the areas for learning, problem solving and communicating. These giant rays are playful, curious and might even recognize themselves in mirrors, a sign of self-awareness.

ABOVE: A critically endangered Black Crested Macaque

In the shadows

Crested Black Macaques are endemic to the tropical island of Sulawesi in the north of Indonesia. They live in groups of around 80 individuals and have a complex social structure which, according to scientists, illuminates human behavior.

ABOVE: It’s still dark in the forest as he stares in the camera.

Black crested Macaques are critically endangered and suffered a 90% decline over the past 30 years. Illegal logging, a cruel pet trade and the demand for bush meat are driving them to extinction.

ABOVE: A Blacktip Reef Shark patrols the reef peacefully. 

Why don’t we care about Sharks?

Sharks are magnificent creatures. As apex predators, they play an important role in the marine ecosystem. They maintain a balance in populations by removing the weak and the sick, ensuring species diversity, thereby creating a healthy environment. But due to the animal’s menacing depiction in movies and on the news, most humans overlook their complex nature. Sharks kill fewer than 4 humans on average each year, while humans kill an estimated 100 million sharks annually. You’re more likely to be killed by a lightning strike, bee sting, falling coconut or falling vending machine than a shark bite.

Each year, at least 63 million and as many as 273 million sharks are killed in the world’s commercial fisheries, many solely for their fins, which are used in shark fin soup. More than 30% of shark species are threatened with extinction.

Humans’ fear of sharks is a poor excuse for the brutality that we inflict upon them. The challenge of conservation, already daunting, is exacerbated by humans’ strong, negative perceptions of an animal species that needs our protection—not our predation.

Humans are driving one million species to extinction 

One million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history. The sixth mass extinction or Anthropocene extinction is a result of human activity.

ABOVE: Pufferfish and can be seen among other tropical fish in a overcrowded aquarium at Tsukiji, the world’s biggest fish market. The star of a Japanese dish called fugu is a puffer fish that produces toxins so deadly that it can kill if prepared improperly. Yet the delicacy is so popular that overfishing may be pushing one species of puffer to the brink of extinction. To me this photo symbolises humans deadly appetite, leading to overfishing and ultimately the destruction of our oceans.

Today, we have reached a critical tipping point – challenges such as overfishing, pollution, melting polar ice, and acidification, to name just a few, are pushing our marine ecosystems to the brink of collapse. Yet, our story is one of hope, and as the great anthropologist Margaret Mead once said:

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead 

PUBLISHED BY

PUBLISHED BY

Kevin De Vree and Nele Ruyters

With this ongoing project we want to inspire greater awareness about the challenges facing our Earth’s wildlife.

Keep Exploring

Stories we think you will enjoy reading next

The Dani tribe

During a three day long festival, the Dani, a people from the highlands of western New Guinea, celebrate their culture and traditions with tribal mock warfare and dances amid spectacular mountain scenery. The competition between villages is fierce and the air is full of anticipation and excitement.

FASCINATING

5 min read

Last of the Mentawai 

Deep in the Indonesian jungle the Mentawai wear Hibiscus flowers, eat sago and practise shamanic rituals, in a silent fight to preserve their ancient culture. 

THOUGHT PROVOKING

5 min read

The Coral Triangle

If coral reefs are the rainforests of the seas, then the Coral Triangle is the underwater equivalent of the Amazon. There are single reefs here that contain more species than the entire Caribbean. When it comes to abundance and sheer scale, nothing else comes close. Discover the earth’s most biodiverse marine area here.

BEAUTIFULL

5 min read

The Dani tribe

During a three day long festival, the Dani, a people from the highlands of western New Guinea, celebrate their culture and traditions with tribal mock warfare and dances amid spectacular mountain scenery. The competition between villages is fierce and the air is full of anticipation and excitement.

FASCINATING

5 min read

The Coral Triangle

If coral reefs are the rainforests of the seas, then the Coral Triangle is the underwater equivalent of the Amazon. There are single reefs here that contain more species than the entire Caribbean. When it comes to abundance and sheer scale, nothing else comes close. Discover the earth’s most biodiverse marine area here.

BEAUTIFULL

5 min read

Last of the Mentawai 

Deep in the Indonesian jungle the Mentawai wear Hibiscus flowers, eat sago and practise shamanic rituals, in a silent fight to preserve their ancient culture. 

THOUGHT PROVOKING

5 min read

Underwater forests

Stunning forests of threatened corals surrounding lush limestone, jungle clad islands covered in mystical sunbeams. More than 80% of our ocean is unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored. Discover the natural wonders that await us beneath the surface.

BEAUTIFULL

5 min read

Subscribe to Beyond and Below

For the most inspiring photography stories in your mailbox

 

Explore

Stories

Gallery

About

Team

Contact

Store

Store

Follow

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

error: Content is protected !!