What Lies Beneath: Blackwater and the Sargasso Sea

by Katie Camosy

October 31, 2019

Dive deep into the Sargasso Sea as underwater shooters Shane Gross and Tavish Campbell capture some incredible sea creatures with blackwater photography, which is done at night in the open ocean, completely untethered. It’s not for the faint of heart.

How do you make people care about a place they’ve never heard of?

This summer I joined the Greenpeace ship Esperanza as it set sail for the Sargasso Sea, a vast ocean patch in the North Atlantic. Our mission was to show why the Sargasso Sea must be protected under the Global Oceans Treaty.

As the Visuals Lead for this leg of the Pole To Pole expedition, I brought along underwater shooters Tavish Campbell and Shane Gross to capture the splendor of this unique ecosystem.

The Sargasso Sea is teeming with wildlife, yet as I looked out at the preternaturally clear waters from the ship, I could see only an occasional seabird or flying fish. To see what else is living in this area, we would have to go much deeper.

Blackwater photography is an emerging art form in which photographers dive into the open ocean, at night, completely untethered. It’s not for the faint of heart.

Shane and Tavish dove down 100 feet over a depth of more than 13,000 feet. At each new layer of depth, they encountered incredible creatures – some larval, others fully grown. Many of these creatures migrated up from the mesopelagic-zone.

 

A larval stage lobster at 90 feet over 13,000 feet of water at night in the Sargasso Sea.

 

A squid next to the blackwater descent line at 30 feet over 13,000 feet of water in the Sargasso Sea.

 

A blackwater image of a jellyfish in the Sargasso Sea.

 

A shrimp inside a sponge. Shot at 60 feet over 13,000 feet of water at night in the Sargasso Sea.

 

A flying fish at night near the surface in the Sargasso sea.

 

Unidentified jellyfish in the Sargasso sea.

 

A gelatinous planktonic animal at 70 feet at night in the Sargasso Sea. Exact species in need of identification.

 

A blackwater image of a glass eel in the Sargasso Sea.

 

The Sargasso Sea must be protected. Click here to tell global leaders we must protect at least 30% of the oceans by 2030!

By Katie Camosy

Katie Camosy is a senior video producer for Greenpeace USA.

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