UBC scientists, wildlife photographers launch Philippines expedition with crowdfunding

Marine scientists and the world’s top nature photographers are teaming up to reveal for the first time the beauty of a rare double-barrier reef in the Philippines – and the imminent threats it faces – with the help of citizens around the world.

One of only six double-barrier reefs in the world, Danajon Bank is an important evolutionary birthplace of fish and other animal species found all over the Pacific Ocean today. Unfortunately, Danajon Bank suffers from overfishing and other human pressures. It is home to nearly 200 threatened species.

Expedition: Danajon Bank will send a team of conservationists and award-winning photographers to document this “centre of the centre” of biodiversity, with the ultimate goal of effecting legal protections for the fragile reef system.

To help fund the expedition and a series of public exhibitions of the photographs, the team today launches a four-week, $30,000 crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo.com. The expedition will take place April 5-15, 2013.

“Not many people have heard of Danajon Bank. We plan to change that,” says Prof. Amanda Vincent, Director of Project Seahorse, a UBC-Zoological Society of London initiative. “Crowdfunding is a fantastic way to raise funds and inspire the public to take ownership of issues such as marine conservation, so we thought: why not start there?”

“There really is no better way to communicate the urgent need for marine conservation than through images that hit you in the head and the heart,” says Thomas P. Peschak, an International League of Conservation Photographers Fellow and one of the expedition photographers. His resumé includes multiple BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and World Press Photo awards.

“We hope to inspire people and policymakers in the Philippines and around the world to take up our cause.”


The Expedition: Danajon Bank team also includes world-renowned photographers Luciano Candisani, Claudio Contreras, and Michael Ready. Project Seahorse co-founders Prof. Amanda Vincent (UBC), Dr. Heather Koldewey (ZSL) and Dr. Nicholas Hill (ZSL) will act as scientific advisors.

In April, the expedition team will blog about from the field at http://danajon-bank.tumblr.com, and you can follow their exploits on Twitter @projectseahorse and @ilcp.

Beginning in June, the photographs will be shown in a series of public exhibitions in Chicago, Hong Kong, Manila and London and published in a new book.

For more information and to support the expedition, visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/expedition-danajon-bank or contact Project Seahorse at t.stiem@projectseahorse.org or 604-827-5142.

About Coral Reefs and Danajon Bank

Coral reefs are among the fastest-diminishing ecosystems in our oceans, thanks to overfishing, pollution, and climate change. One of only six double-barrier reef formations in the world, Danajon Bank is home to 196 threatened species and ecosystems, including Anacropora spinos, a highly endangered coral, and the Tiger-tail seahorse (Hippocampus comes), which is listed as vulnerable.

The Danajon Bank is also home to hundreds of thousands of people, who depend on it for food and livelihoods. Unfortunately, overfishing, pollution, and development threaten both the future of the ecoyststem and the fishing communities who depend on it for survival.

The Danajon Bank encompasses many of our oceans’ most important and threatened marine habitats, including not just coral but mangroves and seagrasses. Its biodiversity, and the threats it faces from human activity, make it a powerful example of the beauty of the world’s coastal marine ecosystems and the threats they face in the 21st century.

About Project Seahorse

Project Seahorse is an award-winning marine conservation group based at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and Zoological Society of London. Project Seahorse works to protect seahorses in order to support ocean conservation more broadly, generating cutting-edge research and using it to inform highly effective conservation interventions.

Project Seahorse benefits from a marine conservation partnership with Guylian Belgian Chocolate and John G. Shedd Aquarium, Chicago.

Website: http://seahorse.fisheries.ubc.ca

About International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP)

ILCP’s mission is to further environmental and cultural conservation through photography. iLCP’s expeditions have been covered by National Geographic (most recently as the cover story of the August 2011 issue), Outside Online, American Photo, The Guardian, ABC Nightline, Huffington Post, Tree Hugger, and numerous blogs that cater to people who care about the world we live in and the conservation challenges it faces.

Website: http://www.ilcp.com