One line of inquiry that repeatedly arose after announcing my upcoming Ask Me Anything series on Instagram was regarding the SeaLegacy 1. Many of you were interested to hear more about the vessel and our plans for her, so I thought I would dedicate an entire article to the issue – here it is.
Most of you probably know me for my work as a polar photographer. I have spent the vast majority of the last twenty-five years traveling to destinations like Norway, Greenland, Russia, Antarctica, and my own backyard of northern Canada to capture stories of the incredible animals that live at our planet's extremes and expose how our actions impact them. Necessity drove me beneath the thin blue line as I began documenting the lives of penguins, leopard seals, and orca. I quickly became fascinated with this vast, new, life-filled world into which so few photojournalists venture once I began to realize the interconnectedness of the land and the sea. And as is so often the case, I discovered an opportunity for conservation at the intersection of art and science.
My dream of owning a vessel was born years ago during endless struggles with boat rentals and schedules while shooting on assignment for National Geographic. Now, with the SeaLegacy 1, that dream is realized beyond my expectations – I am finally able to chase conservation stories with an independence I have never known. The future is bright.
The SeaLegacy 1 is a 62-foot, custom-built, David de Villiers designed, ketch-rigged catamaran. It has both a main and mizzen sail, a strong, light, aluminum hull, and daggerboards (removable vertical keels), which result in a high-performance vessel capable of ripping through the waves. We have hampered its performance somewhat by overloading it with thousands of pounds of camera and dive gear, but that is a small price to pay for the privilege of operating an autonomous hub of content creation on the front lines of ocean conservation. The previous owner, Richard Johnson, was kind enough to acquaint us with her intricacies before we began our voyage. After circumnavigating the globe multiple times aboard the SeaLegacy 1 back when she was named Elcie, it would be an understatement to say his insights were invaluable.
The SeaLegacy 1 is equipped for all our diving needs – a state-of-the-art, custom-built dive compressor will allow us to fill tanks all day long so our team can stay underwater where the stories are waiting. As of this month, we are now recognized as an official PADI Dive Center with gives us the opportunity to train new divers. A fully equipped media room is also on board, generously donated by MAC3, one of SeaLegacy's principal sponsors. Thanks to their support, we have everything we need to get content ripped from our cameras, edited, treated, and uploaded to our media channels just minutes after capturing it while still miles from land. For the first time ever, we will have the ability to tell important conservation stories directly from the front line.
Our maiden voyage around the world got off to a great start in The Bahamas, where countless conservation stories were waiting for us. It was our first visit to the islands since documenting Hurricane Dorian's devastation in 2019. The Bahamian people have made progress rebuilding their society, a demonstration of their incredible resilience, but new threats loom on the horizon – fossil fuel extraction and the potential delisting of protected species stand to put the blue economy island inhabitants depend on at risk. As always, our goal was to speak truth to power while building the support their community needed to protect their corner of the planet. Episode three of our SeaLegacy: The Voyage series offers a behind-the-scenes look at what we experienced during our stay. Up next – Galapagos Islands, East Timor, Tonga, Australia, and wherever we are needed to shine a light on the incredible work of our partners in conservation.
The world's oceans are the lungs and heart of our planet – it is the number one place for us to fight climate change. There is an expression my friend, Dr. Syliva Earle, is fond of: "There is no green without blue." And she is right. The SeaLegacy 1 marks a new era in my career, one where the ocean and the creatures that live there become my priority. If we lose our oceans, we lose our Earth, and time is running out.