Brian Skerry: A Man Who Understands The Oceans

Brian Skerry: A Man Who Understands The Oceans
In comparison with terrestrial predators, sharks seem…polite.

Our teaser quote isn’t from someone in a shark cage taking photos, it’s from Brian Skerry, who says he can’t take good photos of sharks from a shark cage. So he swims up to them. Granted, he says he wears a sort of chain mail layer on himself to protect against bites, but he hasn’t had one yet in the several decades of his ocean photojournalist career. (If you’re curious about how he takes some of his photos, check out this short video that details all the effort, human power, and machine power that went into photographing a great white shark off the coast of Cape Cod.)

Brian Skerry is the first in our National Geographic Live Explorer speaker series, and he’s been places and seen things most land-dwelling humans (i.e., most of us in Southern Ontario) never have. Here are a few facts from Skerry’s 2016 presentation at the Social Good Summit, “Oceans Matter.” And these aren’t your run-of-the-mill did-you-know questions.
– 98% of the biosphere – where life can exist – is water.
– Every second breath that humans take is from the sea.
– The stocks of Bluefin tuna are 90% in decline due to commercial fishing.
– Over 100 million sharks are being killed annually on our planet.
– The true cost of a shrimp dinner: a handful of shrimp and 12 lbs of dead animals.


The beauty of Skerry’s presentations, though, is that he doesn’t try to shock and awe the audience; he delivers his information as straightforward facts, the way you would expect to read them in a National Geographic article. He also doesn’t leave his audiences depressed: he loves to highlight the innovation that’s taking place around the world. For example, Skerry doesn’t believe that fish farming is always a negative thing:
– Option 1: open ocean aquaculture. This involves aquapods (made in Maine) that act as cages and are used offshore to raise various sea animals, e.g., shrimp.
– Option 2: integrated multi-trophic aquaculture. This means growing different species that work in harmony with the environment in such a way that they can flourish and bring in income for the aquatic farmer, too.

Skerry won’t strike you as an all-or-nothing speaker: he sees the whole picture and admits that not everything is perfect. The fascinating facts above were taken from one eight-minute presentation. Skerry’s presentation at the Centre will be 75. Just imagine what you’ll discover! Through his photos, he’ll show you what is – both the good and the bad – and take you to a world you’ve never seen before.

Ocean Wild: The Light Beneath the Seas with Brian Skerry comes to the Centre In The Square November 30 as part of our new National Geographic Live Explorer Series. Get your tickets now for awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, mind-blowing pictures and stories about a world you may never visit.