I visited the 55th World Press Photo exhibit in the Brisbane Powerhouse last week and was intrigued by the press photos of what has been a very turbulent year in World News. 2011 brought us the earthquake in Japan and the devastating tsunami that followed, the Arabic Spring and all the dictatorships that were overthrown by people movements, and the 'politically motivated' killing of 69 people by Anders Breivik in Norway.
The exhibit features images by 57 photographers of 24 nationalities and is now touring through Australia.
One of the saddest entries had little to do with politics, but definitely deserves a mention because it is a current affair and it is a pressing matter! The photo series about shark finning. It was entered by Paul Hilton for Pew/Greenpeace and got the 3rd prize in the Nature Stories category.
"Hunting sharks for their fins has become big business across the globe, as shark-fin soup - once an unaffordable delicacy- soars in popularity among China's newly affluent middle class. Up to 73 million sharks are killed annually, and some estimates hold that 90 percent of the population in open oceans has already disappeared."
The photo series shows a shark fins drying facility in Taiwan, a grey reef shark being pulled onto a fishing boat in Indonesia in a shark and ray sanctuary, workers processing frozen shark fins in China, a hammerhead shark being finned, a shark being pulled onto a long line fishing boat in Central Pacific Ocean, a grey reef shark caught in a driftnet, and shark and ray heads hanging out to dry on a fishing boat.
Tonnara Another photo was showing a diver photographing tuna as he swims into a 'tonnara': a maze of fixed nets in Sardinia, Italy. "The tonnara nets are part of an ancient fishing method, now practised in only a few locations around the Mediterranean. The fish are channelled into a part of the maze and then hoisted onto a boat and killed by hand. Tonnara fishing is more sustainable technique than other methods of catching tuna, such as trawling. It is dying out not only because it is so labour-intensive, but also because pollution and large-scale commercial fishing have diminished the stocks."
I was pleased to see that amidst all that sad news was also some room for fantastic underwater photos of little known species:
This carnivorous ocean snail, belonging to the Pterosoma Planum species , photographed by Joan Costa. Individuals can grow up to 3-4 centimeters long and has a shell, but its body cannot be completely withdrawn.
Pretty interesting stuff. I hope you get the chance to visit the World Press Photo exhibit this year!