Friday, April 1, 2011

Ocean Duets: Michele Westmorland highlights the beauty of underwater pairings

Ocean conservation benefits from the many informative and visually stunning collections of underwater photos that are available in a format known as the "coffee table" book. The down side is that these editions too often remain there, on the coffee table, becoming expensive and unwieldy interior decorations.

Michele Westmorland, recognized underwater photographer and recent inductee into the Women Divers Hall of Fame, took a different approach with her book, Ocean Duets. Producing a smaller, slimmer edition - one that won't throw your back out or crack the coffee table glass - Michele and writer Barbara Sleeper have a produced a very accessible and readable edition based on the concept of so many animals that live in the sea can be seen in pairs. From the tiniest of shrimp to anemone or clownfish to massive manatees, manta rays, and whales - the ocean is full of these "duets." Sometimes as mating pairs, other times developing symbiotic relationships, these pairings represent the linkage that binds the marine ecosystem together. Ocean Duets captures these relationships from around the world, but particularly from one of Michele's favorite haunts: Melanesia and the stunning reefs of Papua New Guinea to Sulawesi in Indonesia.

A busy lady, constantly living out of a suitcase and dive bag, Michele is preparing to return to Melanesia after a side trip to the Cocos Islands, I caught up with her at a recent lecture at the Aquarium of the Pacific where Michele not only presented her underwater work to impress the audience with the need for ocean conservation, but she also made the connection between the ocean and man with her images of the island people and their cultures. She is an advocate of the idea that if you travel to these remote but ecologically important locales, it can be just as important to see the interconnection between the sea and the land as it is just to marvel at what is below the waves.

Ocean Duets is available at Printed on high gloss, heavy stock with a foreward by Dr. Sylvia Earle, it would be a great edition to anyone's underwater library, from families with children eager to learn about the colorful creatures in the sea to the well-informed ocean conservationist.

"It is now with a sense of urgency that I encourage everyone to use whatever talents and resources are available to continue to explore and understand the nature of this extraordinary ocean planet - as depicted so beautifully in the colorful images and captivating creatures of Ocean Duets." - Dr. Sylvia Earle.

Available at

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