Thomas Peschak’s love affair with the ocean began early. He started snorkeling at the age of six in his native South Africa, and learned to SCUBA dive at 12. At night, he devoured books by Jacques Cousteau and legendary National Geographic magazine photographers David Doubilet and Bill Curtsinger. His parents gave him a Nikonos V underwater camera for his sixteenth birthday; it changed his life forever.
Photography had to remain a hobby while he trained as a marine biologist specializing in kelp forest ecology and fisheries. Only after realizing that he could have a greater conservation impact with a camera lens than statistics did he leave behind a scientific career for the nomadic life of a photojournalist.
Today, as an assignment photographer for National Geographic magazine and a National Geographic Explorer, he specializes in documenting the beauty and fragility of the world's oceans, islands, and coasts. He has shot nine feature stories on a range of subjects, from manta rays to marine protected areas. His most recent feature, on the global seabird crisis, appeared in the July 2018 issue of the magazine.
Photographs , I believe, are one of the most powerful weapons in the marine conservation arsenal, and it has becomeis my life’s work to create images and tell stories that inspire people to act.
Thomas is a Founding Director of the Manta Trust, a senior fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and the former Director of Conservation at the Save our Seas Foundation.
He has written and photographed seven books, including Sharks and People and Manta: The Secret Life of Devil Rays. A multiple winner in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards, Thomas received World Press Photo Awards for his images and stories in 2011, 2013, and 2018. In 2015, he gave the TED talk ‘Dive into an ocean photographer’s world’ which has been viewed more than 1 million times.
Thomas is a speaker for the National Geographic Live! Series and has presented his talks, “Wild Seas, Secret Shores” and “Sharks & Seabirds” across Australia, Asia, and North America.
Thomas calls Cape Town, South Africa, home.
Find out about upcoming programs and expeditions with National Geographic photographers, or view more work by Thomas P. Peschak.