From the shores of South Florida to the depths of the Western Pacific Ocean, photographer Chris Leidy takes us on a dreamy, eye-opening underwater adventure.
Florida native Chris Leidy has been snorkeling and diving almost his whole life.
There is no question as to why the Coral Triangle is sometimes referred to as “the Amazon of the ocean”—it is home to 30% of the oceans’ most colorful coral reefs, six out of seven of the world’s marine turtles, and the most diversified fish species. Florida native—and grandson of Lilly Pulitzer—Chris Leidy (@chrisleidyphotography) plunged into this biodiversity hot spot and captured its essence all through the lens of his camera for his new book The Coral Triangle (assouline.com). The eye-catching coffee-table book features 110 of his underwater photographs that will no doubt transport you into a world unimaginable. But more than transport you, Leidy hopes his book will educate readers about the threats that the oceans face—even in a place as far off the grid as the Coral Triangle. We talked to the Florida native about his fearless mindset, love for the ocean and passion to make a change in the world.
What is one standout experience you had while diving in the Coral Triangle? I have had so many. Everything from experiences with sharks at night to close encounters with wild dolphins, or swimming with humpback whales with my mom and brother. Seeing the life thriving is in itself an amazing experience.
Do you have any fears swimming with these animals? I have been rammed by sharks from behind, and it has never really been a fear that is going on; it is more being in the moment and being respectful of the moment. If I feel like the shark is comfortable, it makes me comfortable, and that kind of washes the fear away.
What is the biggest challenge you have when shooting underwater? My set is unconfined. I have to make do with the conditions that I am presented with, whether it is a superstrong current or poor water visibility. I have to be ready to be thrown off guard. I feel when I am challenged, I shine most and my best work comes out.
Your book talks about the threats facing our oceans. How did you notice firsthand that climate change has negatively affected the Coral Triangle? When you are in a place that is so far away, you expect these places to be pristine and tiptop because there are not a lot of people, but you still see the devastation, and that is from planetary changes… You see the bleached reefs and you see a lot of trash floating around.
In your opinion, what is the biggest threat facing our oceans? People.
How would this impact humanity? Keeping the ocean clean and protected instead of turning a blind eye is very important. I think healthy oceans make healthy humans.
What is your next dream shoot destination? I’d love to visit the Arctic again. I am having a baby, though, so
that is probably going to put a hold on this trip for the time being.
Leidy’s book documents the striking oceanic world of the Coral Triangle, the marine area in the western Pacific Ocean that is home to one of the world’s largest mature reef networks.
Photography by: all photos courtesy of Chris Leidy