Developing a thirst for the skies under the sea


Most people will never see the ocean the way Jean Tresfon does. Addicted to the thrill of exploring the sea from above and below, the photographer is both a pilot and professional diver. Tresfon’s attraction to extreme altitudes lies in the rare perspectives they reveal. “It’s almost impossible to explain,” he says. That’s why when he soars above the coastline or plunges into the deep blue, Tresfon takes his camera with him. Using his lens to highlight the beauty of the sea and expose the stark realities of human impact, he’s stirring a whirlpool of change.

“I want to take photos of the abundance and really beautiful stuff we have here,” Tresfon says. “The opposite side of the same coin is to show people how we’re hurting our oceans, and what we’ve got to do to protect them.” He’s renowned for aerial images of the plumes of untreated sewage being pumped into the sea in Cape Town. Tresfon’s work prompted a response from the municipality, and spurred a tidal wave of awareness for all who enjoy the city’s coastline.

A runner-up for Underwater Photographer of the Year in 2017, Tresfon believes the lack of conservation stems from inaccessibility to marine life. By showcasing the beauty of South Africa’s coasts, Tresfon is creating a connection between people and sea that he recognises as vital to the earth’s survival. The Western Cape is home to some of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world. Tresfon’s photography brings the country’s underwater beauty to light, paving the path for future conservation. “You can’t have a healthy breathing Earth without the ocean’s blue lung,” he says. “Look after your oceans.”