Photographer Wishes Viral Photo Of Seahorse ‘Didn’t Exist’ And Explains Why

Wildlife photographer Justin Hofman snapped a shot of a seahorse that is going viral but he wishes it didn’t exist. The photographer was diving in Indonesia when he spotted a seahorse in the water in front of him.

The resulting image is both powerful and heartbreaking. The tiny seahorse, that would normally cling onto seaweed or kelp, instead clings onto a pink, plastic cotton swab with plastic bags floating in the waters around it.

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It’s a photo that I wish didn’t exist but now that it does I want everyone to see it. What started as an opportunity to photograph a cute little sea horse turned into one of frustration and sadness as the incoming tide brought with it countless pieces of trash and sewage. This sea horse drifts long with the trash day in and day out as it rides the currents that flow along the Indonesian archipelago. This photo serves as an allegory for the current and future state of our oceans. What sort of future are we creating? How can your actions shape our planet?
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thanks to @eyosexpeditions for getting me there and to @nhm_wpy and @sea_legacy for getting this photo in front of as many eyes as possible. Go to @sea_legacy to see how you can make a difference. . #plastic #seahorse #wpy53 #wildlifephotography #conservation @nhm_wpy @noaadebris #switchthestick

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The California nature photographer told BBC News how he came to take the shot:

“At first I was so happy to find this cute seahorse all alone, but as the tide changed, sea grass and debris started to drift over the reef – and plastic, trash and sewage along with it. The white blobs you see in the background are actually plastic bags.”

“As the whole thing unfolded, I knew it was an important scene that had to be documented. It was frustrating, disgusting and sad, but I had to shoot it.”

Hofman posted the image on his Instagram account, where people quickly responded to the sad reality.

“It’s a photo that I wish didn’t exist but now that it does I want everyone to see it,” Hofman wrote beneath the image. “What started as an opportunity to photograph a cute little sea horse turned into one of frustration and sadness as the incoming tide brought with it countless pieces of trash and sewage. This sea horse drifts long with the trash day in and day out as it rides the currents that flow along the Indonesian archipelago.”




“This photo serves as an allegory for the current and future state of our oceans,” he continued before asking, “What sort of future are we creating? How can your actions shape our planet?”

Hofman wants to get his photo “in front of as many eyes as possible and prompts people to support efforts that work to keep oceans healthy.

Share Hofman’s photo with your friends and help take action in your local community to keep our planet’s oceans, lakes and rivers clean from pollution and plastic waste.

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