The video streams will be live at 10.30 am CET for scene setting key-notes by Prof Klement Tockner Head of the Leibniz- Institute of Freshwater ecology, Birgit de Boissezon from DG RTD at the European Commission, Prof Brian Moss from the University of Liverpool and Hans Bruyninck from the European Environment Agency.
The video stream will take a lunch break 1-2pm CET, and then be open for the session on Future Visions for Freshwater Ecosystems comprising six presentations by leading freshwater scientists and conservationists from across Europe. See the symposium web-site for full details and links to the live stream.
Biofresh scientisits and our colleagues at Refresh are finalizing presentations and arrangements for the land mark symposium on scientific horizons for biodiversity and water policy, which will be held in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday this weeks.
The symposium represents a cullmination of these two major EU research investments that are designed to address some of the challenges in implementing EU policies designed to protect freshwater ecosystems and to ensure their sustainable use. A particular focus will be the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and the Water Framework Directive.
The symposium will bring together policy makers and stakeholders from the water, energy and conservation sector, NGOs, the scientific community and selected experts. The aim is to generate recommendations for policy making and future research. More generally the hope is that this symposium will raise the profile of freshwater biodiversity among EC policy-makers.
Please check out the symposium web-page for details of the topcis we will be discussing. If you can’t make the symposium why not follow our live feed on the first day and follow us on twitter (@biofreshproject) and check this blog for news and updates. In addition we will be producing a podcast of symposium highlights for later listening.
We conclude out three part series with freshwater photographer and explorer Michel Roggo. Many readers of the Biofresh Blog are freshwater scientists who want to take better pictures of freshwater life. We asked Roggo for his top tips. This is what he had to say.
Good photography is all about emotion
“Oh my goodness, this is not an easy question! In photography, it’s all about emotion. It’s the same as in music or painting. What I do to improve my photography is working on my sensitivity for the beauty in general: by visiting exhibits, not only of photography, by listening music, and a lot of classical music. When I was working with the Brown bears of Kamchatka, I couldn’t really sleep at night. I was just to excited. So I was listening Tchaikovsky on my iPhone. I’m sure it helped me to go out to the river the next day and to make better photographs – it was really all about Russia!”
Digital cameras make photography much easier today
“In underwater photography, you need some basic technical knowledge. With the digital technology it’s much easier than it was in the film days. You can shoot a lot, control the results on location, and change the settings of the camera. And you can shoot even without flashlight on higher ISO (which refers to how sensitive a camera’s sensor is to light, with higher), with good results.”
The water can never be clear enough
“Specific to freshwater photography is the need for clear water. It can never be clear enough. I waited for weeks and weeks for rivers to clear up after heavy rainfall. And even with clear water, you can never be close enough to your subject, and you need a wide angle lens. It’s easy for plants or stones or some insects like caddis fly larvae, but not easy for fish, and close to impossible for let’s say a beaver or a big saltwater crocodile. Take a look at the image of the sockeye salmon: they where touching the housing all the time, I was really extremely close, working with a 15 mm lens.”
You don’t have to travel far
“But there is some good news for the keen freshwater photographer: you don’t have to travel a lot! Try first the creek or pond or lake on your doorstep. You can do this without diving. I do a lot of underwater photography in small creeks or springs without entering the water, just by holding an underwater housing into the water, without seeing what I’m actually shooting. That’s fun, and sometimes you get great results, as for example these autumn leaves in a small Swiss river.
Take an underwater photography class
So there are some simple ways to start underwater photography. But if you really want to do this seriously, one of the best ways to build your skills is to attend an underwater photography workshop or take a class.
We continue our three-part interview with respected freshwater photographer Michel Roggo. Roggo has taken thousands of amazing photographs over the years. We asked him what three images best summed up his vision for freshwaters. From swarms of salmon to eery flooded forests to a different side of the world’s biggest lake, these were the photos he chose.
Salmon swarms: the migration of the sockeye salmon in Canada’s Adams River
“Thirty years ago on an expedition to Alaska, I caught my first glimpse of these migrating Pacific salmon and resolved to return each year until I had captured good photographs of them underwater. After several failed attempts, I perfected my technique for shooting underwater without having to dive, instead using a small structure on the riverbed. The advantage of this is that fish are not really concerned about the structure, which allows me to capture their natural behaviour. At the beginning of my career, I worked a lot in Alaska and later in British Colombia, especially at the Adams River, pictured above, where every 4 years there is a major run of about four million Sockeye salmon. They enter the Adams river to spawn and to die. So this is really an abundance of life and for me perhaps the best example of how much of life a river can produce.”
Many more incredible photos and millions more salmon can be viewed over at Michel Roggo’s website.
Flooded forests: the annual flooding of the Amazonian rainforest
“Every year the waters of the Amazon and its tributaries rise up to fifteen metres, entering the rainforest. Where there have been birds, there are now fish. They enter the rainforest to spawn, and to feed on fruits and seeds. By doing so they disperse the seeds of the trees, helping them to expand their territory. In turn, predators such as river dolphins and caimans follow the fish into the transformed forest in search of a meal. In the earlier stage of my career as photographer I worked a lot in the Amazon, travelling for months at a time on riverboats on Xingu, Trombetas, Tabajos, Rio Negro and such. I was not very experienced at that time and had a lot of problems in the humid environment with my high tech equipment. After a total of seven months of work I had less than ten good underwater images. But it was a great time!”
Beneath Baikal: the world’s biggest lake like you’ve never seen it before
“Although I still mostly use remote controls to make underwater images, I started shooting pictures while snorkeling – the day after my 60th birthday – in the dangerous Verzasca river in the southern Swiss Alps. Last September, I finally started diving at age of 62 in Lake Baikal, the world’s most voluminous and the deepest freshwater lake in the world – it’s never too late for a new experience. But even here, I photograph without flashlight. Everyone has seen Lake Baikal from the surface, but I like to make underwater landscapes. I try to show the world down there through the eyes of a fish, without artificial light. In fact, I haven‘t used flashlight under water for perhaps ten years now.”
A selection of Roggo’s underwater (and above water) landscapes can be seen here.
We conclude our three part interview with Michel Roggo next week, when he will share some tips and tricks for budding freshwater photographers, so make sure you don’t miss it!
Check out part one of the interview.
Michel Roggo may be the quintessential modern-day explorer. Instead of taking back samples of his journeys, he captures them with his camera. This week we are featuring a three-part interview with Roggo, who talked to the BioFresh blog about his amazing freshwater photography, his latest work, The Freshwater Project, and some tips and tricks for budding freshwater photographers.
BioFresh Blog: Michel, thanks for speaking with the BioFresh blog and welcome. Tell us about The Freshwater Project: what is it and what inspired you to do it?
Michael Roggo: I started photography in the countless crystal clear rivers and lakes of the Swiss Alps. In 2010, with twenty five years experience photographing freshwater landscapes, animals and plants and about a hundred expeditions worldwide, I decided to work on a global effort: The Freshwater Project.
MR: Well, we know what coral reefs look like, but what about the creeks, streams, lakes and ponds on our doorstep? I’m always looking for new and interesting scenes with the most dramatic light. A marsh pond, beneath the ice in a mountain stream, among algae – these habitats are hardly ever seen but they are incredibly beautiful.
The goal of The Freshwater Project is to take pictures of around thirty special freshwater locations, places that are spectacular, mostly different from each other, and of an unbearable beauty and therefore very important. In short, our aim to produce a photographic record of important freshwater environments from across the globe, focusing on underwater images. To date, twenty four locations have been photographed (which you can see here).
BB: What motivated you to team up with the IUCN freshwater programme?
MR: First of all, I am doing this project for myself, as a photographer. I just had to do it: searching for this magic moment under the surface, with the perfect light and composition. At the same time I know that many of these freshwater ecosystems are under threat. It breaks my heart to see how quickly things go bad. But I’m not Bruce Willis. I can’t save the world alone. So it makes sense to team up with an important and global conservation organization like the IUCN. I have already worked with NGO’s, on national and international level, for example in the Amazon with WWF. But when Will Darwall, Head of the IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity Unit asked me for a cooperation, I was very happy. Now I can jump into the water and do my job, and the IUCN can use the images to help to save the Blue Planet of Freshwater. They have to do Bruce Willis’ job.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the interview this week.
If you want to see more of Michel extensive work, visit roggo.ch.
With the new year upon us, we take a look back at the year that’s been to discuss our top ten moments for freshwater biodiversity in 2013. What are yours?
10. World Water Day 2013
Held on March 22nd, World Water Day is an opportunity to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocate for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Water is not only a vital resource for humans, however, but a medium for life itself. This year’s theme was ‘water co-operation‘, fitting with 2013 as the ‘International Year of Water Co-operation’.
9. Leading scientist calls for freshwater advocacy group
The Head of the IUCN Freshwater Biodiversity team, Will Darwall, spoke to BioFresh about the big challenges for freshwater biodiversity conservation and called for the formation of a freshwater advocacy group. In the interview, which you can watch here, Darwall urges closer cooperation between freshwater scientists and conservationists to provide a stronger voice for freshwater biodiversity.
8. New campaign to shed light into the hidden world of microbial life
Freshwater life comes both big and small. They also come in the microscopic size! River Sampling Day, a new campaign that kicked off in 2013, aims the highlight the amazing diversity of microbial life hidden in our rivers and lakes. Although these tiny specks of freshwater life are at the heart of many essential ecosystem services, they are greatly under-researched; a situation that River Sampling Day intends to improve.
7. World biodiversity day helps raise awareness about freshwater biodiversity
This year’s theme of the International Day for Biological Diversity was ‘water and biodiversity’. It provided the perfect opportunity to raise awareness about the crucial role that water plays in sustaining life on Earth, as well the highlighting the abundance of life found within freshwaters.
6. UN RIvers Convention close to reality
Efforts create an UN rivers convention have taken a leap forward this year. Originally drafted in 1997, thirty-two countries have now ratified the convention that aims to protect rivers shared by a number of countries, just three short of the number needed for it to take effect. More than 150 major rivers are shared by two or more countries, often leading to international tensions over their use. The international environment framework is officially known as the Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses.
5. The IPBES, the new international authority on biodiversity, kicks off their agenda
Dubbed the IPCC of the biodiversity world, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services or IPBES has had a big year. Founded last year, the new global nature authority held its first meetings this year, laying the foundations for its future work and setting its top priorities. The IPBES plans carry out two assessments focusing on pollination and food production, and the impact land degradation on biodiversity and human well-being.
4. WWF launches a global campaign to protect Congo’s Lake Edward from oil exploration
Not all of the items in this list are positive. The threat of oil exploration project in Africa’s oldest national park is one such example. London-based company Soco International plans to look for oil in the Virguna National Park, Africa’s most biologically diverse protected area and a World Heritage Area. Encompassing Lake Edward, a key freshwater biodiversity area upon which thousands of people also rely, Virguna is home to over 200 species found nowhere else on earth, including many freshwater fish. Read about WWF’s global campaign to protect the region from oil exploration.
3. The world-renowned Experimental Lakes Area is kept alive
Known as the super collider of ecology, the Experimental Lakes Areas (ELA) in Canada was facing a bleak future at the turn of last year. The Harper Government had announced that it would close the freshwater science research facility to save money. But after a strong campaign the provincial government of Ontario stepped in and saved the ELA, which will now be managed by the International Institute for Sustainable Development. The ELA is the only facility in the world that allows the study of whole lake ecosystem research and has produced almost 750 peer-reviewed papers including 19 in Science and Nature.
2. Hundreds of new freshwater species found
With the ‘discovery’ of hundreds of species of freshwater critters previously unknown to science, from fish to frogs to water beetles, 2013 proved that there is still so much to find out about the world. The new species were found in places ranging from the Amazon to Australia and include a giant air-breathing fish, an eyeless cave fish, a vegetarian piranha, and fish that has been named after Barack Obama.
1. New protected areas announced for vital freshwater ecosystems
A suite of new freshwater protected areas were created this year. Bolivia has continued its reputation as a conservation leader by creating the world’s biggest protected wetlands, covering a whopping 6.9 million ha of the Amazon and protecting nearly 2,500 species! Cambodia also stepped up to the plate this year by protecting over 50km of the Mekong, safeguarding local people’s livelihoods and iconic species such as the Irrawaddy river dolphin. This comes has Columbia and Peru celebrate 10 years of successful freshwater conservation in the Amazon.