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Review of Ocean of Stars Event

Ocean Of Stars Great Success

Ocean of Stars was a fantastic event on many levels. The final numbers aren’t in yet, but it appears that over two hundred people came to the talks and that means over £2000.00 was raised for the Sealife Centre’s own Trust, which was celebrating its first anniversary and I think that is a pretty good first birthday present.

I’m going to write more formally about this before reposting on the INON UK sites, but for my own site this is going to have to suffice, ‘cos I am knackered!
The exhibition of giant prints by Danny Kessler and Doug Perrine looked stunning. They were strategically arranged throughout London Sealife Centre for maximum impact. Following quick introductions from Sealife and an impassioned presentation from Ally from Shark Trust, who many of you know, Danny was up. He gave a great, straight from the hip and heartfelt talk explaining the stories behind a few of his and Doug’s images (time was very short for each presentation) and highlighting the work that Tethys does helping to protect cetaceans in the Mediterranean. Nino was there, representing Tethys, which is, of course, the organisation that Doug and Danny are official underwater photographers for. You may have met Nino at the dive show.

To my own surprise, Danny revealed an astounding image taken by him on an expedition with Tethys – I really thought he was going to keep it secret. But the prestige of being at Ocean of Stars must have got to him. It’s a dolphin – with a fin whale!

Adam finished off the evening with a fantastic and very funny expose of his work behind the camera for SCUBAZOO. He has a wonderful self – deprecating style. There’s real and refreshing humility to his and Danny’s personalities – these guys have had some amazing encounters and shot some incredible photographs and done so much for conservation, yet they are very understated about their accomplishments.
Then it was off to a meeting with Joe from the BBC to discuss “Oceans”.

It was great to see and catch up with so many old friends. I know I am very lucky in that way. Might seem I take those friendships for granted, but I honestly don’t. I can look around and feel a bit overwhelmed by that.
On that score, personal thanks to Steve and Nigel for kicking this project off with unprecedented coverage in Diver Magazine and so much support at the dive show. And to Bex and Becky at London Sealife Centre. I am especially indebted to Jamie O – The Real Jamie Oliver- curator of London Sealife Centre who for many, many years, has extended fantastic support and the aquariums facilities to my vanity projects.

Thank you to all who attended last might.

Steve.

danny and ally
Ally Hood, representing Shark Trust with Danny Kessler appearing for Tethys

Ocean of Stars was an extremely important event to Danny and myself. For that reason we asked Nick Balban to fly in from Gibraltar especially for the event. Danny ended his presentation by calling to Nick to the stage and giving him a collection of photographs contributed by members of the Pilot Whale Club. I was asked to write a few words on behalf of us all and here they are.

As the killer whales surge towards the back of the boat, the only thought going through your head is will I get a photo? Seconds later, as you hit the water and your bubbles clear, you find out.

The Straits of Gibraltar and one special boat, Cri – Cri, have particular meaning to our small band. In 2008 a group flew to Gibraltar to speculatively try our luck with longfin pilot whales. When we arrived on the Rock we were mostly strangers.

Three days later we were friends and, perhaps without realising it had even happened, we became a team.

Our encounters with turtles, dolphins, pilot whales and orcas in the Straits have been widely recounted through the media. From diving magazines to national newspapers, to events like whalefest, the dive shows to Ocean of Stars, “our” pilots have been the celebrities. The Straits of Gibraltar have delivered so many incredible megafauna experiences and promise so much more that each of us has returned time and again to these rich waters. For us, it has special meaning because each person feels a sense of ownership of the project. This is because, normally, we would travel to a far off destination to work with a guide already hugely familiar with the creature we wish to photograph. But in the Straits of Gibraltar we believe we scored a first. By their nature firsts are evasive. But it is simply thrilling to be part of discovering a cetecean superhighway and bringing that story to the world.

One person made all of this possible through his insights into marine life in his local waters, his uncanny skill at locating animals for our cameras, his dedication to the mission and his exemplary seamanship. For his is by far the greatest contribution to this incredible experience in which we have all shared and he is the protagonist of the many other projects and opportunities gifted to us as a result. We thank him for all of these things and for his friendship.

That person is Nick Balban.

nick balban
Nick with Sue, Lisa and Mateusz at Ocean of Stars.