THE PROBLEM: California’s coastal wetland habitats are one of the most threatened coastal habitats on the planet, losing over 90% of their habitats in some regions due to rapid population growth and development in the past 150 years. These critically impacted habitats provide a suite of beneficial services, including nutrient cycling, act as natural filtration systems for pollutants and sediments, protect shorelines from severe storms and flooding, recreation, and serve as critical nursery areas for many organisms. Many of California’s most threatened and endangered species utilize these habitats at some point in their life history. Some of these species include the endangered tidewater goby, red-legged frog, southern steelhead, snowy plover, and the California least tern.
THE PURPOSE: I created this kickstarter project to help fund my 4-month photographic journey along the California coast. If successfully funded, this project would allow me to capture images of some of California’s most threatened and endangered ecosystems and wildlife. These images, along with the research I have conducted in these habitats over the past 4 years, will allow me to tell a very detailed story of these critically impacted ecosystems and wildlife to a broad audience. My goal is to link photography and scientific documentation, creating a powerful tool that can promote conservation and sustainability in multiple ways. These include gallery exhibitions that promote public awareness of wetland conservation through imagery, and curriculum and interactive activities that can be used for educational courses and public programs.
GOALS AND PRODUCTS: G2 Gallery Exhibition - An exhibit is planned at the G2 Gallery in Venice, CA from August 11- September 27, 2015 to showcase some of the photographs that are captured from this project. The G2 Gallery is an award winning nature and wildlife photography gallery that facilitates change by bringing attention to environmental issues through the persuasive power of photography. Since 2008, the G2 gallery has donated over 1 million dollars to environmental charities. This exhibition will allow the community to experience these remarkable habitats up close, and create a unique opportunity to promote conservation and public awareness of these critically impacted ecosystems.
Santa Monica Pier Aquarium - Photographs and funds will go towards developing wetland based curriculum and interactive activities that will be used for education and public programs at Heal the Bay's Santa Monica Pier Aquarium. The new Water shed exhibit (shown below) helps visitors make the connection between the natural environment, and how their own everyday habits impact the health and ecology of local watershed. The photographs, curriculum, and interactive activities generated through this project will directly help the aquarium reach its goals of raising awareness of the local watersheds and marine environments, promoting conservation through stewardship, and teaching marine science to the public.
One of the live exhibits depicts the life in an estuary in the Santa Monica Mountain Watershed, and I was fortunate enough to work with the aquarium to exhibit the endangered tidewater goby so they can educate the public on its ecological importance within the estuary.
EXPERIENCE: Research Biologist - I am a Southern California native, currently living in Los Angeles. I received my B.S. degree in biology from San Diego State University, and my M.S. degree in marine ecology from California State University, Northridge. I have worked in the marine biology field since 2002, and am currently a research biologist and Ph.D. student at the University of California, Los Angeles. My research focuses on the topics of estuarine ecology, ichthyology, and conservation biology. Specifically, I am interested in various ecological questions that relate to the recovery and management of threatened and endangered species that inhabit California coastal estuaries and lagoons. Photography allows me communicate my research to a broader audience, and provides a powerful tool in promoting conservation and sustainability.
Photography - I have a considerable amount of experience photographing landscapes and wildlife all around the world. My photographs have been featured in numerous publications, blogs, galleries, and movie and commercial sets, including National Geographic Magazine. In October of 2010, I received the National Geographic People’s Choice Award for the image captured below.
WHAT WILL YOUR DONATION SUPPORT? Your donation will help support my 4-month journey along the California coast, the printing and framing of photos for the G2 gallery exhibit, and the development of wetland based curriculum and interactive activities used at Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium.
Project costs include:
- YOUR INCENTIVES!
- Travel expenses - gasoline Lodging (I will be camping along the coast in order to reduce costs)
- Camera equipment
- Weatherproofing material for camera gear
- Scientific permits
- Field supplies
- Printing, matting, and framing of gallery images
- Materials and equipment needed to convert photos into curriculum and activities
- Kickstarter fees
The G2 Gallery - Nature and Wildlife Photography Website: http://www.theg2gallery.com/
Santa Monica Pier Aquarium - Heal the Bay Website: http://www.healthebay.org/santa-monica-pier-aquarium
Dr. David Jacob’s Lab - University of California, Los Angeles website: https://www.eeb.ucla.edu/Faculty/Jacobs/Jacobs_Lab.000/Home.html
For more information on my research, photography, and this project please visit my website at http://www.brentonspies.com
Follow me on twitter @Gobi_Guy
Risks and challenges
The potential risks and challenges I foresee with this project include:
Climate and Terrain: Photographing throughout the California coast during late fall and early spring can provide a lot of variable weather, especially this year with the projected El Nino flooding. In addition, many of these sites require a lot of hiking and climbing to get to the areas where wildlife of interest occur. However, this is what I want to capture. The response of these estuarine systems to variations in the climate and terrain is a large part of the story that isn't being told.
Equipment and Logistics: Photographing in the field is not always kind to your equipment. Especially when photographing in or near water. Therefore, camera insurance has been taken out on my current equipment, and any new equipment purchased from this kickstarter project will be added to the insurance policy before I head into the field.
Illness and Injury: As you can see from the video, some of these estuaries are not the cleanest of places and take a lot of hiking and climbing to get to. Because of this, there is a risk of illness, infection, and serious injury. With my extensive experience in these systems, I take all the necessary precautions in order to be safe and healthy.
Nature and Wildlife: There is always great uncertainty being a nature and wildlife photographer. You never know what will be provided for you to photograph. With my knowledge and experience in these systems, however, I am very confident I'll be able to capture many of the endangered and threatened species to share with you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)