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Images of sea life put all creatures great and small in full focus

Updated: 2021-11-06 12:33 ( Xinhua )
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Award-winning Australian photographer Scott Portelli is one of those fortunate people who have turned an unwavering passion into a creative career.

"I've always been fascinated by most animals, wildlife, marine life, nature, our environment, our landscapes," he told Xinhua.

The all-consuming fascination led Portelli to leave his marketing job to take his cameras for some of the world's most scenic regions including the Arctic, Antarctica, Africa, and South Pacific islands.

The images he has captured offer intimate portraits of the rarely seen lives of wildlife, particularly marine creatures ranging from majestic humpback whales, leopard seals, sharks and huge sunfish down to delicate sea horses and translucent jellyfish.

His close and personal portraits have garnered international awards, the most recent being Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year for an ethereal image of a leafy sea dragon staring deep into the camera lens.

Among his other notable works has been a film about humpback whales, Gentle Giants, which was selected for the International Ocean Film Festival in San Francisco last year. Meanwhile his photos have graced exhibitions in such far-flung destinations as Iceland, Britain and Spain, as well as his hometown Sydney.

Portelli hopes the photographs raise his audience's awareness of the importance of wildlife conservation.

"I think the best thing about this job is I go to some of the remotest places on the planet and see these unique animals," he said.

"As a wildlife photographer you try to share that with a wider audience to get people connected with nature and wildlife.

"I enjoy showing people the behaviors of animals that they might not have seen before. I've got photographs, for example, of green turtles eating giant jellyfish. So someone might see that and think:'I didn't know they eat those things'."

"By connecting people with nature and wildlife, they might take action. Whether by signing a petition or picking up a bit of plastic off the beach or looking at how they have an impact in an environment with wildlife."

The environmental awareness includes understanding of the role of biodiversity for healthy ecosystems.

"A lot of the work I do, I'm trying to show the diversity of our ecosystems," he said. "We have so many creatures in so many symbiotic relationships, so, for example, if you impact one thing in the ocean, then something else takes over.

"If all the sharks die off, then another species will take over which could impact the reef system and so on."

His message is timely amid the environmental conferences such as the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 15) in China earlier this month and the upcoming the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow.

Portelli hopes that the protection of oceans will be featured during the Glasgow summit meetings.

"We need to look at plastic pollution in our oceans and the breakdown of these microplastics that are going to last forever," he said.

"Another thing is the amount of oxygen that comes from the ocean and sea grass. People don't realize that that's a big part of how we, as a species, survive."

"Our oceans are our life blood and are not an unlimited resource. Overfishing, habitat loss, climate change, all these things can reduce our underwater world to a desolate wasteland."

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