Thomas P. Peschak- Patron / co-Founder
Thomas P. Peschak is a Fellow of the ILCP (International League of Conservation Photographers) and a contributing photographer to National Geographic Magazine. He leads a near nomadic existence and spends 300 days per year in the field on assignments around the world. He was recently named as one of the 40 most influential nature photographers in the world.
He trained as a marine biologist and specialised in kelp forest ecology, shark conservation and the impacts of illegal fishing. He retired from science to pursue a life dedicated to environmental photojournalism after realizing that he could have a bigger conservation impact with his photographs than statistics.
A dedicated conservation photographer he believes strongly that photographs are one of the most effective weapons in conservation today. His feature story on manta rays of the Maldives appeared in National Geographic magazine in 2009 and resulted in the proclamation of a marine reserve and protection for these rays. He is presently spearheading campaigns to make marine reserves more effective in Africa, stop unsustainable shark fisheries and raise awareness of manta ray conservation in Sri Lanka. In 2010 he was part of a small team of photojournalists that travelled to Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest to create a photographic legacy to prevent the construction of an oil pipeline from destroying this unique coastal wilderness forever.
Thomas believes that the combined force of photojournalists, conservation NGOs and local communities is very powerful. He has worked as the official photographer of WWF-SA (World Wide Fund for Nature) and for four years spearheaded the Conservation Photography Unit as Chief Photographer for the Save our Seas Foundation where is is now Director of Conservation. Thomas is a multiple winner in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards and in 2011 he received a World Press Photo Award for his work.
To learn more about Tom please check his website www.thomaspeschak.com
Steve has been passionate about the wild world ever since he could crawl; growing up counted as his best pals the animals that lived around him – from the asthmatic donkey, to the grass snakes in the manure heap! After leaving Exeter University with a degree in English and Theatre studies, Steve studied martial arts in Japan and wrote for the Indonesian Rough Guides before pitching an idea for a TV series to the National Geographic Channel and becoming their ‘Adventurer in Residence’ getting into many scrapes along the way! His adventures and credits include circumnavigating the globe time and again, venturing into the Sinai desert, completing the Israeli paratroopers selection course, catching anacondas, vipers and cobras, and (perhaps the best job ever) making “The Ten Great Dives of the World”, for the series ‘Earthpulse’.
Steve now finds himself to be one of the busiest presenters on television, mainly working for the BBC’s Natural History Unit. In 2003 he took his place on the long running children’s wildlife programme ‘The Really Wild Show’ and has been lucky enough to experience wildlife highlights including, sharing a beach with 75,000 nesting olive ridley turtles, having a baby mountain gorilla take him by the hand, and having a red-eyed tree frog leap into his face. Steve now fronts the BBC kid’s series ‘Deadly 60’, travelling the world to learn about the most inspiring predators. He’s been squirted with ink by humboldt squid, flirted with by tarantula, charged by elephants, and stared out by thresher and great hammerhead sharks, but still maintains that wild animals pose no threat to people – in fact quite the opposite. Exposed to such amazing experiences, Steve is a passionate conservationist and supports numerous wildlife charities.
To find out more about Steve please check his website stevebackshall.com
Doug Allan is an award winning freelance wildlife documentary cameraman and photographer, whose experience in the field spans the last 5 decades. Among Doug’s best known work are his contributions to the BBC documentaries The Blue Planet, Planet Earth, Life, Human Planet and Frozen Planet.
After graduating in marine biology, Doug worked on various research and diving jobs before his big break came in 1976, when he took up as a research diver on the British Antarctic Survey station at Signy Island… the beginning of a love affair with the ice that lasts until this day and is captured in Doug’s latest book Freeze Frame which came out in 2012.
Doug became interested in the work of the Manta Trust when he did a recent filming trip with the BBC Natural History Unit to the Maldives in 2011, for a forthcoming series entitled How Life Works with Chris Packham. During his time in the Maldives Doug was fortunate enough to have an encounter with over 50 mantas and a whale shark in Hanifaru Bay, and having experienced the magic of swimming with all those mantas he has now pledged his support to The Manta Trust.
“Mantas can’t fail to impress, they’re spectacular animals to encounter underwater, and Guy’s level of knowledge about them and their individual characters gave me a whole new level of fascination. The integrity of the science that he and his volunteers are undertaking, their genuine respect for their subjects, their efforts at conservation – all those shone through for me. It’s a privilege to be one of the Trust’s patrons.”
To learn more about Doug please check his website dougallan.com
Valerie Taylor is a world renowned underwater filmmaker, marine conservationist and shark expert.
Born in Australia in 1936 Valerie, alongside her husband Ron, was a pioneer in the fields of underwater photography and film making, making, directing, starring in and producing countless films as well as publishing in an abundance of magazines and authoring numerous books on the underwater realm. Amongst the Taylor’s most famous accolades was the filming of the live shark scenes in Jaws. They are also widely known for being the first people to ever film Great White Sharks underwater without a cage.
Valerie has campaigned for a variety of species over the years and has won many awards, both for her photography skills and for her wider work for marine conservation. To this day Valerie is regarded as one of the world’s top underwater photographers.
Valerie first ventured underwater in 1956 and is greatly concerned how the oceans have changed in her own lifetime and about people’s ignorance of the underwater world and what is happening to it. “Like all animals, fish, they need somewhere to live, love and breed, and if we don’t give them those places we’re going to lose them…”
“One day there will be one manta alone swimming in an empty sea looking for a mate. Unless we stop killing them now.”
The Manta Trust is honoured to have Valerie as a patron of our charity.
Doug Perrine is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost marine wildlife photographers. His photographs have been reproduced in virtually every major nature magazine in the world, as well as in thousands of books, calendars, greeting cards, posters, etc., including more than 100 covers. His photography has won a number of awards, including the prestigious BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition as the overall winner (2004), and also winner of the animal behaviour category and the Nature’s Best/Cemex competition in the Professional Marine Wildlife category. He is also the author of seven books on marine life and numerous magazine articles.
Doug founded SeaPics.com as a venue for his own photography, and later expanded it to represent a growing number of other photographers as well. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Doug was educated at the University of Hawaii and the University of Miami, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in marine biology. He has lived in Morocco and Micronesia (as a Peace Corps volunteer) and the Cayman Islands (as a dive guide/instructor). Since finishing graduate school in 1986, he has been self-employed as a naturalist/photojournalist. He is the author of the books Sharks (1995), Mysteries of the Sea (1997), Sharks and Rays of the World (1999), Ripley’s Whales & Dolphins (2000),Ripley’s Coral Colony Creatures (2000), The Living Sea (2002), and Sea Turtles of the World (2003). He is the primary photographer for Sea Turtles (1996) and Manatees and Dugongs of the World (1999).
“Among the most graceful and intelligent creatures on the planet, manta rays are also among the slowest-reproducing of ocean wildlife. Having only a single pup every few years, they simply cannot sustain even modest levels of harvest, let along the senseless slaughter that is now being visited upon them, with many thousands being killed annually merely to rip out their breathing / feeding organs for quack “health supplement” products. Please join the Manta Trust in investigating, exposing, and countering these phony schemes to profit by the destruction of the most majestic of sea creatures, and to support research into the biology of these mysterious and enigmatic beings.”
Keep up to date with Doug’s work at SeaPics.com
Douglas David Seifert learned to swim at age two on Singer Island, Florida. He began snorkelling a few years later and began his diving career in 1974 in West Palm Beach. In 1987, after an underwater photography class with top Australian photographer Kevin Deacon, he made his first underwater images of great white sharks in South Australia. The images were well received and a career writing marine natural history, phenomena, sea life and adventure combined with photographing under the sea had found him. Along his journey, he has been fortunate enough to have learned from the best mentors in the field of underwater photography and exploration to hone his skills and he is deeply indebted to: Ron & Valerie Taylor, Stan Waterman, Howard & Michele Hall, Dr. Eugenie Clark, Norine Rouse, Chris Newbert, Tom Campbell, Doug Perrine, Jim Watt, Dave Fleetham, Avi Klapfer, Yves Lefevre, and Norbert Wu, among others.
In his current role as World Editor of DIVE Magazine, Douglas photographs and writes an extensive, in-depth monthly feature of marine natural history and phenomena entitled WATER COLUMN. Douglas also runs an expedition company, Tiny Bubbles Expeditions, Inc., which has taken discriminating adventurers to the far corners of the world to encounter whales, dolphins, turtles, sharks and other marine life for the past fifteen years.
Douglas is keenly involved in marine conservation, particularly concerning sharks and rays. He serves on the Board of Directors of Shark Savers (www.sharksavers.org) and is a Life Member of the Shark Conservation Society (www.sharkconsoc.com) in the UK.
His underwater photographic images have been published in books, newspapers and magazines around the world, including The New York Times, The International Herald-Tribune, Men’s Journal, Esquire, Forbes FYI, Outside, GQ, Reader’s Digest, Sports Afield, Nature’s Best, Wetpixel Quarterly, DAN Alert Diver and most of the world’s dive magazines. These images have won many awards including Bronze Prize, UNEP Focus On Your World 2000; Grand Prize, Papua New Guinea Photo Competition 2000; Winner, Oceans, Nature’s Best Magazine, 2002; Highly Commended, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, 1995, 2001, 2004.
Tony is a waterlogged award-winning photographer who spends most of his life at sea, going to sea, or coming back from sea. In the course of his travels, Tony has witnessed first-hand the deterioration of many marine habitats and accompanying decrease in the health and numbers of marine animals around the world.
With a Chinese heritage, Tony is keen to address over-exploitation of marine resources by people in Asia, particularly in the context of consumption stemming from superstition and/ or a desire to flaunt social status and wealth. For example, he was one of the first people to initiate and execute successful campaigns to address the issue of shark fin consumption in Asia, persuading Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways to remove shark fin from their inflight menus in the late 1990s. Tony has consistently been at the forefront of educational efforts and campaigns related to shark fin consumption ever since.
Having recently learned about the burgeoning trade in manta ray gill plates, Tony believes that working with The Manta Trust and other like-minded people to educate consumers is the key to preventing overfishing and consequent collapse of manta ray populations.
“Mantas command your attention: they are majestic; they are graceful; and they are incredibly photogenic. But sadly, as has too often been the case with charismatic megafauna, mantas are being targeted worldwide in an indiscriminate and senseless manner. They are being killed for the alleged healing properties of their gill plates, which are being marketed in the traditional Chinese medicine trade. The only way to prevent ignorance, superstition and greed from obliterating global manta populations is by working together to educate and protect.”
Keep up with ongoing updates from Tony’s latest travels on his blog at tonywublog.com