Monday, October 8, 2007

Marine photos available for educational use

The Delray Beach, Florida, ocean outfall discharges 13 million gallons per day of treated sewage up-current of a coral reef./ Jim Cagle, Palm Beach Reef Rescue/Marine Photobank

Marine Photobank provides easily accessible images of human effect on marine life. Photographers--some professional, some amateur,some researchers from universities and nonprofits--furnish photos of sea lions wrapped in filament, otters blanketed in oil, corals bleaching, hurricanes swirling over land, and many more. According to the organization's mission statement:

The Marine Photobank aims to literally shed light through photos on pressing marine issues and human-related impacts on the ocean ecosystem.

In frustration over the lack of compelling images, philanthropist and photographer Wolcott Henry joined Green Media Toolshed to collect images that document the widespread destruction throughout the world's oceans and coastlines. In 2004, the photobank became part of SeaWeb, a nonprofit advancing the cause of ocean conservation.

Users can register to both download and upload photographs. There are two types of download registrations, one in which you designate your photo use as nonprofit (e.g., in an educational context) and one in which you designate your use for the media or other for-profit use. Upon registering for nonprofit, your membership must be accepted by the organization. In my case, this took approximately 24 hours. I did not register to upload photos, but students and faculty who spend time photographing research may want to contribute to this database.

Photographs will be excellent for presentations made by either students or faculty on marine and coastal issues. The site offers an extensive collection of exceptional, vivid, and troubling images. The images are arranged in subject galleries, such as Reefs in Peril, Deep Sea Habitat, and Coast Development, which makes for easy browsing. In addition, the search function permits searching by keywords, concepts, or photo ID number.

Some images have been turned into "photo stories," which may be best described as downloadable informational posters on a marine issue. In addition, educational materials for classroom use are under development. Another cool feature is the photo wishlist. Members can request certain images. Currently, there is a lengthy wishlist, so prospective photographers also might be interested to see what members wish for.

Furthermore, I see Marine Photobank serving a social/networking function also. Photographers are listed, some with biographies and contact links. Many of the photographers are also researchers, providing a method of finding people studying issues that you might also find interesting, hope to study, or are studying yourself.

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