A production update from our 2017 CMG Blue Initiative Grantee:
"As the recipient of CMG’s Blue Initiative Grant, The Pew Charitable Trusts’ global shark conservation campaign has been identifying the most important shark areas around the world to capture footage of whale sharks and other shark species that could receive international protections at the Convention on the Conservation Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) 12th Conference of the Parties (CoP12) in Manila in October this year.
Award-winning photo and video journalist Steve De Neef flew to Donsol in The Philippines in May, to begin filming. As the birthplace of whale shark tourism in Asia, Donsol heavily depends on whale sharks for its local economy. Steve interviewed and followed several whale shark guides, who benefit the most from these giant fish and who shared stories about the origins of whale shark tourism and the impact the species has had on their lives. And of course, they captured some great dive footage. The first in the series of three commissioned by CMG’s Blue Initiative Grant, this video will help demonstrate how ecotourism and protecting species like whale sharks helped a small towns like Donsol grow from a third-class to a first-class municipality, and conservation’s ability to help other communities.
To continue filming, de Neef next traveled to Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, a UNESCO heritage site, which, because of decades of proper protection, has some of the highest biodiversity of sharks and rays in the world. Steve followed several rangers and the park manager and interviewed them about their work and the importance of sharks to Tubbataha. The filming focused on showing what a pristine reef with top predators looks like, what it takes to protect a place like this, and how important Tubbataha is for the economy, environment and Filipino culture. This segment will be added to previous footage of other Philippine shark hotspots like Malapascua (thresher sharks) and Donsol (whale sharks) to draw connections on the same themes across the country.
In both Donsol and Tubbataha, Steve also conducted interviews with scientists and local environmentalists to get additional perspectives on the importance of shark conservation and these charismatic species.
The first video in this series of films will be premiered at the CMS CoP12 in Manila in October, where 124 member countries will meet to determine whether to further protect several shark species, including whale sharks."
Earlier this year, CMG awarded The Pew Charitable Trusts’ global shark conservation campaign $30,000 as our 2017 Blue Initiative Grant. You can read more about the project here. Our Blue Initiative Program provides a $30,000 grant to an international organization each year, including production funding, in kind support, and guidance, to create a series of short films aimed at engaging local audiences in direct measurable action. In addition, a short film is created to engage world travelers in protecting the places they love to explore. Funding of this program is in partnership with and made possible by a 5-year grant from the Grand Circle Foundation, whose mission is to “give back to the world we travel.”
Photos Courtesy of The Pew Charitable Trusts and Copyright © Steve De Neef