Now you sea me: meet the ocean’s endangered animals

Samantha Weinberg in More Intelligent Life:

Philip Hamilton, a seasoned underwater photographer, has spent the past five years seeking out the stars of the seas, but also the smaller, lesser-known creatures. In his book, “Call of the Blue”, there are pin-sharp close-ups of a hawksbill turtle and a great white shark – and of a tiny xeno crab and a strange group of Lambert’s worm sea cucumbers. There are also great splashes of colourful reefs and gaudy anemones, and a silvery view into the mouth of a whale shark, the largest fish in the world. Coursing through this visual warmth is an icy current: essays and interviews with scientists, photographers and “ocean guardians” – people who are devoted to protecting the oceans. Though they are clearly fascinated by all things oceanic, the stories they tell are more terrifying than any tiger shark. The waters are warming; as a result, corals are bleaching and dying, leaving creatures of all types homeless and vulnerable. We are catching too many fish and filling the oceans with plastic. “Large marine animals have survived five mass extinctions millions of years ago,” Hamilton writes. “However, many of them are now at the brink of disappearing for good.”

It was, he admits, a calculated decision to mix beautiful pictures with harsh words: “I’m not trying to deceive myself [by] hiding the problems and pretending that everything is perfect out there.” Yet he realised that the book would go unnoticed without beautiful photographs. “A single photo can be the most powerful conservation tool,” he says. This magnificent book is his call to arms. Let’s hope it works.

More here.