Meet the Man Who Has Spent 10,000 Hours Underwater

Brian Skerry’s images of marine life help raise awareness and promote conservation of the oceans.

By Patricia Edmonds
Published 16 Nov 2017, 08:22 GMT
In New Zealand’s Auckland Islands, Skerry captured his assistant Mauricio Handler’s close encounter with a Southern ...
In New Zealand’s Auckland Islands, Skerry captured his assistant Mauricio Handler’s close encounter with a Southern right whale.
Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic Creative
Photographer Brian Skerry, who has spent more than 10,000 hours underwater exploring the world’s oceans with a camera, is the Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year for 2017.

The award honours individuals who make scientific discoveries and share them to benefit the world. It is presented by Rolex, which recently entered into a new partnership with National Geographic to support exploration.

Skerry’s aim is to create,  “images that celebrate the sea yet highlight environmental problems.”
Photograph by Mauricio Handler, National Geographic Creative

Skerry, 55, is internationally known for his images of undersea wildlife and environments. A National Geographic photographer for two decades and a National Geographic photography fellow since 2014, he currently is at work on his 25th feature story for the magazine.

“Brian’s images tell stories that celebrate the mystery and beauty of the ocean while bringing attention to the issues that threaten it,” says National Geographic Society President and CEO Gary E. Knell. To capture those images, Knell says, “Brian has lived on the bottom of the sea, spent months aboard fishing boats, and travelled in everything from snowmobiles to the Goodyear blimp.”

Skerry is a founding fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers. He lectures widely on photography and conservation and has authored 10 books.

Rolex and National Geographic are longtime collaborators on the Explorer of the Year award, which is presented each June during the Society’s Explorers Festival in Washington, D.C., USA.

“We want our families, for generations to come, to be able to rely on and enjoy our oceans. This is what drives Brian,” Knell says. “It’s about giving a voice to the sea and its creatures, many of which are endangered.”

This story appeared in the July 2017 issue of National Geographic magazine.


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