Neha Acharya -Patel's September Photo Journal: An Our World Underwater Rolex Scholar Journey

 La Paz, Mexico on the Baja Peninsula is a uniquely situated place on the Gulf of California. 

Within two hours you can be on the Pacific Ocean. These two oceans, so close in proximity are vastly different, yet insane ecosystems that face different challenges when it comes to conservation. Because of this, La Paz is a hub for marine scientists in Mexico, and I am here to work with a couple of them.  I spent the first two weeks of the month with an incredible NGO called Communidad y Biodiversidad (COBI). They work with the system of Fishing cooperatives down the Pacific Coast of the peninsula to establish sustainable fishing practices and understand how the fisheries are changing in response to environmental change. These cooperatives are models when it comes to community-level management, and I was so inspired by my time with them. I joined COBI on their trip to change out subtidal oxygen and temperature sensors in these remote communities along the coastline.


Most of my diving has been in the Pacific Ocean, and I absolutely love it. One thing that embodies its richness to me is the kelp! I used to work a lot in the kelp forests in my home in British Columbia, Canada beside massive rainforests, so it was an incredible experience to dive in them off the coast of the desert that is the Baja Peninsula. The kelp forests of Macrocystis pyrifera, and other ground-dwelling kelps like Ecklonia arborea that are abundant here, form an incredible environment that is constantly moving! For this reason, I really tried to take pictures of moments that could capture this movement. As a new photographer, I am trying to work on skills that enable photographs to tell stories. I love seeing images that, may not be in focus, but can tell a detailed story of behavior. This trip, I really focused on trying to use shutter speed, and ambient light to capture these moments. The Panasonic GX-9 Camera is an amazing camera that is very user friendly. Getting familiar with it has been a very fun experience, which has definitely helped my image-making capabilities.








The images I chose for this blog all show movement of some sort. I especially love the one of the Garibaldi fish swimming away from me! Garibaldis are very charismatic fish. I first learned about them on Blue Planet. For those of you that don’t know, they are territorial and aggressive fish that aren’t afraid to come at you if you get too close. They also keep a little patch of algae clean the whole year, and grow it to the perfect length to be the home to their eggs when the time is right! On top of that, they are bright orange and beautiful to look at in contrast to all the blue and green around them. For this reason, I really wanted to make an image that demonstrated their flair, and I spent quite a bit of time chasing them around. I am quite happy with how this one turned out!


I feel like I am still at the level, where there is a lot of luck involved in the shots that I take. I am looking forward to fine-tuning my skills so that I have a lot more control over the images that I make. Luckily, I now have the opportunity and the equipment to practice!