Using Art to End the Destruction of Threatened Marine Wildlife


Inspiration Over Devastation: Using Art to End the Destruction of Threatened Marine Life by Shawn Heinrichs

I am obsessed with the visual sense and addicted to the art of capturing powerful media. I am a storyteller and imagery is my medium. My passion is to capture through my camera’s lens what my soul experiences through my eyes, an enhanced version of reality, order in chaos, focused, isolated, and profound.

Photo by Paul Hilton

Photo by Paul Hilton

With over a decade documenting environmental issues, I have witnessed just about every imaginable act of cruelty and wanton destruction. In the face of such devastation, I walk a fine line between despair and hope. My job is to expose the destruction as a wake up call to the world, but also to preserve hope for the future: that mankind will wake up and change, and that things will get better.

My love of the oceans fuels me. I am captivated by the grace and beauty of the marine life within it. I have a special affinity for sharks and manta rays, and have dedicated much of the last decade to conserving them. Recognizing that people only protect what they love, I am on a mission to capture inspiring and dramatic imagery that connects the global community to the beauty and vulnerability of these threatened species. Through this connection, I hope the world will ultimately share my passion for these creatures and be inspired to act before it is too late.

Photo by Shawn Heinrichs

Photo by Shawn Heinrichs

“Some people will see only the beauty of the woman in this photo. Many others, especially those of us fortunate enough to have swum with them, will see the equal beauty in the whale sharks. The wholesale slaughter of these magnificent creatures must stop before it’s too late.” — Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group

Sir Richard Branson is Founder of the Virgin Group. Virgin is one of the world’s most recognized and respected brands, and has expanded into many diverse sectors, from air and ground travel to telecommunications, health, space travel, and renewable energy, through more than 200 companies worldwide, employing approximately 50,000 people in twenty-nine countries.

In 2004, Richard established Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group. It mobilizes the talent and resources from across the Virgin Group and beyond, to tackle tough social and environmental problems in an entrepreneurial way. It is built on the belief that the only way we can address the scale of the challenges facing the world today is by revolutionizing the way businesses, government, and the social sector work together—driving business as a force for good. Virgin Unite works with the Virgin businesses to put people and planet at their core.

Shark Fins – Photo by Shawn Heinrichs

“For 400 million years sharks have helped to maintain the ecological balance in all of our oceans. In many regions, sharks have been depleted to ecological extinction already, and we could lose many of these species if we cannot temper demand for the flavorless cartilage of their fins.” — Peter Knights, Executive Director, WildAid

Peter Knights graduated from the London School of Economics to become an investigator of and campaigner against illegal and unsustainable trade in wildlife. Exposing the use of wild birds in the pet trade, bears, rhinos, and tigers in traditional medicine, and sharks in shark fin soup, he has worked in over forty-five countries on conservation projects. In 1995, he started what has become the world’s largest conservation awareness program, the only one aimed at reducing demand for endangered species products. In 2000, he co-founded WildAid, which now reaches hundreds of millions of people a week in China, and generates over $200 million a year of pro bono media support. Campaigns led by Yao Ming, Jackie Chan, and other icons are now attributed by shark fin traders as cutting their business by 50% in 2012 by using the slogan “when the buying stops, the killing can too.”

Photo by Shawn Heinrichs

“Humanity is creating an extinction event that will make every war ever fought a footnote to history. We belong to the only generation in history that can turn this around—we’re one step away from greatness or the biggest disaster since the meteor wiped out the dinosaurs. What gives me hope is art—it’s the most powerful weapons ever created. It’s a weapon of mass construction.” –Louie Psihoyos – Executive Director – Oceanic Preservation Society


Photo by Shawn Heinrichs

“Without Ocean Conservation, we might as well be bottling the air we breathe. Our life on earth cannot sustain without healthy oceans—and because of that, the beings who inhabit and allow that eco system to work need our help. Let’s start with our wonderment, and go from there. Allow that, and it becomes easy.” –Maggie Q – Actress & Activist – Nakita, Mission Impossible III

Shawn Heinrichs on the web:

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