Behind the Lens: Beneath the Surface
Joining the locals in Papua New Guinea’s Kimbe Bay led to a unique over-and-under photo opportunity for pro nature photographer Justin Gilligan.
Kimbe Bay on the north coast of Papua New Guinea’s New Britain is flanked on three sides by rainforest smothered volcanoes. It’s an idyllic setting with azure waters and a patchwork of coral reefs and seagrass beds lined by thickets of mangroves.
In 1996 a type of reserve known as a Locally Managed Marine Area was established by communities beside the bay. Villages sustainably manage their own marine resources and some areas are regulated, which in Kimbe means that fishing is forbidden on some reefs close to shore.
To demonstrate the community link to the marine environment, I asked a pair of local divers if I could photograph them catching fish, and spent an afternoon watching as they used hand-crafted spears on the shallow reef.
Treading lightly across the sharp coral on the hunt, it was clear the two locals were at home in this environment. In contrast, I flailed behind them like an uncoordinated robot attempting to capture the grace beneath the surface as buoyant clouds sailed high overhead.