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March 2010: Wakatobi National Park, Indonesia

From the Photographer

Bridget Besaw

Photographer's note to self: Keep the focus sharp until the very end; the rewards may be a colorful harvest!

It was my last day of a month-long photography assignment for The Nature Conservancy's Asia Pacific program in Indonesia and I was feeling a bit travel weary. But when Hesti Widodo, my Nature Conservancy guide and conservation education specialist, took me to the spot on the far end of Wangi Wangi in Wakatobi National Park to see the seaweed harvest operation, my visual batteries were instantly re-charged.

I spotted this beautiful Indonesian woman with her pink headscarf surrounded by yellow seaweed and turquoise waters. I rolled up my pant-legs and waded across the velvety white Wakatobi sand to the dock where I spent about an hour photographing her as she pulled the seaweed she had harvested from just offshore out of her canoe below.

She was very friendly and found my desire to wade around in the sea while photographing her seaweed work quite amusing.

After specializing in photographing sustainable fisheries stories for years, it was fun for me to see this seaweed operation in action. The Conservancy is working with WWF-Indonesia and local villagers to introduce alternative livelihoods that are sustainable and beneficial for people and the natural environment. It's a win-win for both sides.

This situation provided a perfect photographic end to my time in Wakatobi National Park, which I found to be one of the most beautiful places I've visited for the Conservancy.

The reefs of Wakatobi National Park — the third largest marine park in Indonesia — support a tremendously colorful cross-section of biodiversity.

I made this image with a Nikon D300 and Nikor 12-24mm lens with a circular polarizer to deepen the contrast of the Wakatobi summer blue sky with those puffy white clouds.

As an environmental photojournalist, Bridget Besaw tells the story of the human connection to the natural world. The primary inspiration for Bridget's work is environmental protection, which has led to photography projects for organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, Maine Woods Forever and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

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