September 13, 2010
Monterey, California – August 30th, 2010 – Dr. Sylvia Earle’s SEAlliance is delighted to announce that “Isla Holbox – Whale Shark Island,” has been selected as the 2010 winner for non-broadcast documentary at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival. Over 350 entries were submitted in 19 categories from around the world. The BLUE Ocean Film Festival was held in Monterey, California August 25-29th. “Isla Holbox” was produced by Monterey based filmmaker Kip Evans in 2009.
Dr. Sylvia Earle and our foundation’s filmmaker Kip Evans receiving the award
Photo by: Kate Miller
Isla Holbox (pronounced “hole-bosh”), an island off Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, was a well-kept secret until six years ago when large populations of migratory whale sharks were discovered right off its coast. Once a small island with just 1600 year-round residents, Holbox has since become a popular summer tourist destination when whale sharks congregate in the waters surrounding the island to feed and mate from May through September. Holbox has since earned the designation as the top place in the world to see and swim with these gentle giants.
The waters around Holbox teem with plankton, a feast for whale sharks—10-meter giants that gather by the hundreds from June through September. These supersized, toothless filter feeders are the core of a local tourism industry, but over-development could threaten this delicate balance. While the sharks are no longer fished in Mexican waters, they now face the threats that come with popularity: interference with feeding and other natural behaviors, and the risk of being killed by propeller hits from the ever-increasing boat traffic.
The Mission Blue/SEAlliance team sought to highlight these issues in a short documentary that has already been viewed online by thousands. The film is part of a larger goal to raise awareness for “Hope Spots,” areas of the ocean that need critical protection.
The SEAlliance‘s purpose is to explore and care for the ocean. Its long term vision, inspired by founder Dr. Sylvia Earle, is to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas–hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.
Under Dr. Earle’s leadership, the SEAlliance/Mission Blue team has embarked on a series of expeditions to further this vision and shed light on these ocean Hope Spots. The Holbox expedition was the first of these, and several more are now underway or planned. For more information about Dr. Earle’s foundation, please visit: www.thesealliance.org
Kip Evans is a cinematographer and underwater explorer. Since 1998 he has worked on a number of National Geographic Society projects including the Sustainable Seas Expeditions, where he served as the chief photographer for Dr. Earle. During this period, Kip spent over 300 hours diving submersibles to depths of 1,800 feet. In 2008, Kip joined Dr. Earle’s foundation as the Director of Photography and Expeditions and has since led expeditions to Belize, Cuba and Mexico. In addition to “Isla Holbox-Whale Shark Island,” Kip recently completed a short film that highlights California’s new Marine Protected Areas.