post Capturing the impact of plastic waste for World Oceans Day

In honour of World Oceans day, we explore the impact of our plastic consumption through the work of nature photographer Shawn Miller.

Our plastic pollution problem has reached a critical point. With 8 tonnes entering our waters every year, there is enough ocean plastic to circle the Earth over 400 times. That’s more plastic in the ocean than there are stars in our galaxy. Because our coastlines are overwhelmed with waste, animals are forced to adapt to a changing landscape.

Renowned nature photographer Shawn Miller captures hermit crabs on the beaches of Okinawa, Japan to illustrate the realities of this crisis with his series ‘Crabs with Beach Trash Homes’. We asked Shawn about his project and what he hopes to achieve with his impactful images.

1. How did you get started in wildlife photography?

At a young age I was fascinated with the behaviour of wild animals. I have always appreciated photography, growing up admiring the beautiful animal photographs in guide books. In high school and college, I took a few basic photography courses, and with the purchase of my first DSLR in 2008 I started taking up photography again. In 2010, I decided to get serious about wildlife photography. I wanted to make an impact with my images and bring awareness to the endangered animals of Okinawa Japan.

2. Stella has been incredibly inspired by your series ‘Crabs with Beach Trash Homes’. Can you tell us more about it?

I photograph Blueberry hermit crabs that have begun to use beach trash as their home in Okinawa, Japan. The first hermit crab was photographed in 2010, but it wasn’t until 2014 when I started photographing the animals on our coastline at night that I started finding a good amount of these hermit crabs found naturally adapting with our waste. That’s when I decided to start the project. I often find hermit crabs using a variety of plastic caps from twist top pet bottles, laundry detergent containers, small propane tanks, sports water bottles and beauty supplies.

3. What do you hope these images will achieve?

My goal is to bring awareness to the pollution problem on our shorelines. Hopefully these images will inspire people to care more about nature and make a positive difference in the environment.

4. How do you think we as individuals can make a positive difference to our coastal environments?

Reduce, prevent and participate. Reduce the number of single-use items we purchase on a daily basis and switch to reusable resources. Prevent trash entering the ocean in the first place by recycling and correctly disposing of waste. Finally, participate in beach clean-ups. You’re doing something great for the environment and you can see the amount of trash that ends up on our shorelines yourself.

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