Claire Nouvian: Deep Sea Beauties
This week, The Reel Foto blog heads to the waters and seas starting with the deepest depths of the oceans. Here, a thousand fathoms below the water's surface where little sunlight invades the privacy of the darkness, where the intense pressure is enough to crush a man and the extreme cold embraces all, mysterious and beautiful sea creatures abound. Public knowledge of these animals would be found wanting today were it not for the efforts of many devoted researchers and scientists, most especially that of the work of Claire Nouvian.
Claire Nouvian isn't a photographer per se, but a journalist and filmmaker, having worked on pieces focusing on wildlife for different television shows.
Nouvian's foray into the deep sea began almost a decade ago when she visited the Mysteries of the Deep exhibition at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Unfortunately, many of the wonderfully weird animals included were as of yet unidentified. Worse yet, there wasn't much information about the deep sea available to the public at that time. Fascinated by the deep sea creatures, she set out to document them in their own habitat in the depths of the oceans for the whole world to see.
Nouvian's work is actually quite timely, considering the lack of information regarding the Earth's seas and the inhabitants within. While many speculate about the future of space flight and exploration, relatively little has been mentioned of deep sea exploration nowadays. That is unfortunate as in many ways the oceans are the next real frontier for discovery; the waters of the earth cover more than 70% of its total surface, yet more is known about the Earth's moon than what lies in the depths of the oceans.
Nouvian spent more than four years on the project and collected more than 6,000 images with the help of other scientists and photographers (including deep sea photographer David Shale). The number of images collected is mind-boggling, considering that many researchers have spent many years in the field (and underwater) and have only encountered a fraction of what Nouvian has published.
These photographs are not only beautiful, but also essential to research as they allow scientists an objective view of these creatures in their natural habitat. Were they to be pulled up to the topside world where the air reigns, their delicate bodies would disintegrate, not allowing researchers a real glimpse into the lives of these elusive invertebrates.
While Nouvian's book met with much praise and success, her devotion to the subject is far from over. Her research into the ocean's life led her to discover that much of the waters and their inhabitants are largely unprotected and left to the devastating effects of human greed. One cruel practice is that of bottom trawling fishing. This has had severe environmental impacts, yet there is a clear lack of regulation on this hazardous practice.
In response to the possibility that the ocean bed's life might be wiped out due to these kinds of practices, Nouvian set up BLOOM Association to help with her marine conservation advocacy.
If you want to see more of these spectacular images by Claire Nouvian and her team, head on over to The Deep Sea Book website. Better yet, purchase the book, The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss so that you can enjoy over 200 color photographs in all their glory along with insightful scientific commentary. Don't forget to visit the BLOOM Association website to learn more about how you can help keep these wonderful creatures alive and well for future generations to see.