Joanna Smart's October Photo Journal: An Our World Underwater Rolex Scholar Journey


I spent the month of October in the cold, rugged and harsh landscape of the Faroe Islands. Located halfway between Norway and Iceland, this remote set of islands battle harsh winds, rain, large swells and snow year-round. The terrain is rugged, steep and stark, with little in the way of trees or vegetation. The Faroe Islands was one of the most incredible places I have ever visited.


I was in the Faroe Islands to learn about seaweed farming. I joined the team at Ocean Rainforest to learn how seaweeds are seeded, cultivated, harvested and processed. As a crop, seaweeds are one of the most valuable aquaculture species on earth. You’ll find seaweeds used in food (both directly and as an extract), in pharmaceuticals, as fertilizer and biofuels. In addition, the cultivation of seaweeds has a number of environmental benefits including habitat creation, oxygenation and nutrient uptake.

 I was able to dive on the seaweed farm, located in a pristine fjord and document the seaweed cultivation lines. I was able to film the lines being pulled for harvest and see all the creatures using the seaweed crop for habitat, including a number of ducks and seabirds who were able to dive several meters underwater and feed off the shellfish growing on the fronds.

During this process, I was able to use my underwater camera set up from Reef Photo and Video to film the condition of the seaweed lines.
The team hadn’t had a diver in the water filming before so I was able to provide valuable footage of the deeper sections of the lines as well as the condition of the lines as they were pulled to be harvested.


Apart from the opportunities they provided me underwater, the beautiful Faroe Islands' land gave me infinite opportunities to use my Panasonic GX9 above the surface. On-land photography is still fairly new for me, but luckily in the Faroes, it was almost impossible to take a bad photo! I had a great time experimenting with different landscapes and learned a lot more about my camera in the process.