• April 7, 2014

Thomas P. Peschak: Discovering the Ocean of Childhood Dreams

Photographer Thomas Peschak documented the remote atolls of Bassas da India and Europa, which are among of the last vestiges of pristine seascape in the Indian Ocean, for the April issue of National Geographic magazine. Together with cameraman Dan Beecham and writer Sunnye Collins, he created a behind the scenes video highlighting the process of photographing in this rare ecosystem.

As a kid, I used to dream about the ocean. It was a wild place full of color and life. I pictured dense shivers of sharks ruling over the food chain and herds of turtles paddling through reefs and seagrass. As a marine biologist turned photographer, I have spent most of my career looking for the places I used to dream about when I was little.

I invite you all to travel back in time, to a place where my quest to experience my childhood dreams of a healthy and vibrant ocean became reality 30 years later. I hope you let the ocean’s wonders nourish your heart and soul. But above all, be inspired to engage and to do everything in your power to ensure that more seascapes recover and once again resemble the marine realm of Bassas da India and Europa.

Special thanks to Save our Seas Foundation for critical logistical support during the expedition and to Terres Australes et Antarctiques Francaises for granting access and for being such a concerned and effective environmental guardian of these two atolls.

Peschak’s photographs of the Bassas da India and Europa atolls are featured in the April issue of National Geographic. To see more of Thomas P. Peschak’s work visit his website.

There are 53 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Valerie Forte
    July 7, 2016

    Your photography is breathaking. I have never seen another photographer capture images in the ocean as amazing as you do. I look forward to seeing more from you. Keep saving our ocean.

  2. Rohit sarwade
    April 22, 2014

    Thank you hole team …. beautiful oceans ..

  3. David H
    April 17, 2014

    Beautiful! The shark in the light was absolutely the best photo I have seen, now hopefully we won’t have people flocking to that location and ruin it.

  4. Dakshinya
    April 17, 2014

    I really love it a lot . I encourage Thomas P. Peschack to take many nice and outstanding exploration video

  5. Dakshinya
    April 17, 2014

    I really really love it even my childhood dream was to explore oceans and seas but then when I was big changed dream because I thought it is very dangerous to go inside oceans and seas so my dream now is to become a business woman

  6. Franky
    April 15, 2014

    Much enjoyed this short film. Beautiful photography, and wonderful to see a human being at the edge and pushing forwards…

  7. STEVE
    April 14, 2014

    My sincere thanks to National Geogrqphic and you for developing and sharing this wonderful video. Many of us dream of visiting a locations as beautiful and interesting as these and your sharing makes a wonderful gift.
    thanks again,


  8. Hawaa
    April 14, 2014

    First of all my Sister and me would like to express our thanks to our great Creator, who leads you through this amazing and great scientific expedition, and keep you safe to let us enjoy such amazing scenes we have never seen if it is for your impossible courage and efforts, may God keep you safe and happy throughout your entire life.

  9. Toni Napolitano
    April 14, 2014

    Thank you so much Thomas. I had similar dreams when I was young. I did get accepted to a college in Florida in the 70s for marine biology but my Dad would not let me go away to college. So, I live virtuously through National Geo and your eyes for underwater views. I am a member of Save the Barnegat Bay club in NJ for which it is ruined by polution and warmed up by nuclear power plants unnaturally. I love everything about the bays and oceans! Thank you!

  10. Robert
    April 14, 2014

    Absolutely wonderful. Thanks Thomas.

  11. Jame$m88
    April 14, 2014

    Thank you fir your work. But most of all… ALWAYS be aware of how lucky you are to do what you do and see what you see. NEVER forget that.p

  12. kathryn firth
    April 14, 2014

    thank you for your passion and sharing this amazing place, so inspiring! Am so pleased to see places like this still exist.

  13. Suzette Robberts
    April 14, 2014

    Breathtaking as always – Thank you so much for sharing.

  14. Matrixbaram
    April 13, 2014

    Thanks guys keep the good work

  15. Barin Das
    April 13, 2014

    Despite the possibility of Thomas affecting the marine life by close up phtography he has reduced potential harm through our increased awareness of the delicate ecosystm. Keep up the good work.

  16. PW-NHH
    April 13, 2014

    There is nothing more can I say about how tranquil, how peaceful and how awesome the video brought to me.. There is another living side so valuable for all of us, so called mankind to take responsibility to maintain it.

  17. Greg Kurtz
    April 13, 2014

    Thank you for sharing this insight.

  18. Jean Chappell
    April 13, 2014

    National Geographic is one of the most soul-filling things in my entire life. These beautiful pictures and the informative articles give me the opportunity to learn about places and things I will never be able to visit myself and an observer’s explanation for me of just what it is I’m seeing. I have cherished The National Geographic most of my adult life. I even went so far one day to “rescue” about 300 copies of the magazine from a recycling center in Wichita, KS. My daughters got a bit tired of my carrying them around from one house to another (with their help, of course) and even from one town to another. I finally had to glean as many pictures that I couldn’t leave behind and send the rest to the current town’s recycling center. They’re too sacred, in my opinion, to ever go into the trash. I am now on a 14-day trial to get each issue from Barnes & Noble on my Nook e-reader. Of course I can’t have the pictures in that format, but at least I can still keep up with current findings and read in great detail what the photographer and writer are checking into. The National Geographic is, indeed, my nomination for a National Treasure! I do think that there is some credence to those who have posted their concern about the exact location of the beautiful seas in this particular location – I think a generalized idea that there still IS a native part of the entire world’s ocean that has survived the cruel treatment of unkind man would suffice to get the beauty of the story across but not endanger its continued existence. Other than that, it’s your great magazine’s usual best-quality photography and reporting! Thank you to all!

  19. Toby Fox
    April 13, 2014

    Thank you for taking me where I know I’ll never be able to go. I have traveled with National Geographic photos for over fifty years. It truly is the next best thing to being there. Thank you so very much.

  20. Ralph
    April 13, 2014

    The photographs are beautiful. We should not criticize him for getting close to his subjects or for telling us about them. He didn’t appear to be “harming” the sharks or th environment but documenting it. If there had been thousands of photographers doing the same thing that would be a different story. It is up to each and every one of us to protect and love our environment. Keeping secrets generally doesn’t work.

  21. Margaret Kropf
    April 13, 2014

    I held my breath and was overcome with wonder.
    I then read some of the comments, and was saddened to realize that the photographer may have put these wondrous creatures in harm’s way by his unintentional interference in their lives.

  22. Glenda
    April 13, 2014

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful gift with us.

  23. Gloria
    April 13, 2014

    Some of those shark photos were indeed breathtaking and I loved how he could embody the captivating aura of the ocean in a photograph but I do agree that some of this work may have disrupted the natural environments. Those sharks probably weren’t basking in the grace of the ocean… they were trying to figure out what the heck the light was. The notion that this film with its disclosed locations may invite outsiders with less-than-savory agendas scares me to death (I’m a marine biologist-to-be and I don’t want to see any more harm done to the select few pristine ecosystems that remain in the ocean).

  24. Amy Pearson
    April 13, 2014

    Brilliant photography and cheers to your bravery. We are grateful for your fine work and commentary on this beautiful spot.

  25. Jade
    April 9, 2014

    If you would like to see more of Thomas’s work and find out more about this pristine marine environment, Save Our Seas Foundation is dedicating the month of April to the western Indian Oceans to compliment this story. You can see the feature here: http://features.saveourseas.com/journey-to-the-western-indian-ocean/

  26. Enah Mae Dayanan Taran
    April 8, 2014

    thank you so much bravely plunging into those rough waters to show us how beautiful marine life is and how important it is to take care of them… thanks for inspiring young people like me 🙂

  27. Susan Ellis
    April 8, 2014

    While I delighted in seeing the work, I believe that there are far too few places that require us to keep them sacred as elders do for their sacred places. Please show the beauty but withhold the location.

  28. jef van mele
    April 8, 2014

    great,very beautiful,love the sea

  29. Colin Bell
    April 8, 2014

    An all too common flaw with wildlife photographers today is that they get too close to their subjects and interfere with their daily lives often pushing a species closer to the brink in their selfish quest for their ultimate photograph. I am particularly disappointed that a marine biologist turned photographer did not show more respect for both the areas and for his subjects. No doubt this film will in time impact negatively on these two special atolls and their marine life. The photographer concedes that only 1 out of 100 mating turtles allowed him to get close enough. What about the other 99 who experienced coitus interuptus! Did he not get the hint that maybe he was not welcome! And now to publish a film on these two special areas is just what the Chinese and other fishing fleets that operate in the Indian Ocean want to hear. The shark finners must be rubbing their hands in glee especially as these two atolls are too far away from effective formal conservation protection and can be easily raided and plundered.

  30. kooliedrakes
    April 8, 2014


  31. rero
    April 8, 2014

    beautiful work. just hope that now millions of divers (amateur and professional) won’t flood this small wonder area of the ocean. They tend to look for special areas, new things and new kicks. Sometimes it’s probably better to not say where the film was made in order to protect the marine life from all these tourists.

  32. Milda
    April 8, 2014

    Fascinating video with a right idea! So inspiring and charming 🙂 Thank You and good luck with Your future career

  33. Sue Ingram
    April 8, 2014

    Love your photographic books but this is another experience entirely. Thank you for such beautiful work

  34. Armando A
    April 8, 2014

    Very beautiful, thank you!!!

  35. monica
    April 8, 2014

    sencillamente maravilloso ese mar con tanta vida!!! felicitaciones por tu trabajo !!

  36. Preeti Takle
    April 8, 2014

    Thank you Thomas for sharing what only a few can witness first hand. God bless you and all those who work tirelessly to preserve our beautiful planet.

  37. jhonny pelcastre
    April 8, 2014

    Muy buen reportaje gracias por informarnos lo que mucha gente no savemos sigan asi con su trabajo exelenteeee!!

  38. Sonia ANDRIEU
    April 8, 2014

    Merci de nous faire partager les merveilles de notre planète. Respect pour votre fabuleux travail

  39. Margaret
    April 8, 2014

    I found myself holding my breath despite the calm beauty of the water

  40. Nurul Shohimi
    April 7, 2014

    Inspiring, beautiful!!!

  41. Haji Zainol Abideen
    April 7, 2014

    Beautiful video. Loved the HD quality! May our oceans be as unpolluted as in these waters shown in the video. More effort is needed to outlaw overfishing and destructive forms of trawling! Save the corals. Without them, the marine life will cease to exist.

  42. Caren Killon
    April 7, 2014

    Absolutely beautiful and magical. Good to know there are still places such as this and sad to think there used to be more of them.

  43. Tor J.Vipop
    April 7, 2014

    Might be hard work to create such a nice video.
    Thank you

  44. Jesus Rivera
    April 7, 2014

    Impresionante trabajo,god bless you!

  45. Bernard Erima
    April 7, 2014

    Very splendid. Thank you Thomas for showing us the splendor of the pristine sea. May this inspire us to
    save the environment in which we live

  46. David Helwick
    April 7, 2014

    Loved this Video, Would Like to see More !!

  47. Joan Fleming
    April 7, 2014

    So beautiful. I have never seen Thomas’ work before and I am so impressed. What a beautiful way to see the ocean.

  48. Andrea Solinas
    April 7, 2014

    Semplicemente stupendo e originale!

  49. Catherine Dutilleul
    April 7, 2014

    Merci de tout coeur ! Que vos images ouvrent le coeurs de Tous ….

  50. Martina
    April 7, 2014

    Thank you Thomas for the beautiful video. You are very lucky (with lots of work behind I am sure) to have the job you have. Your pictures are amazing. Good Luck with everything.

  51. Sharon Flora
    April 7, 2014

    Read this in the magazine; it is truly magical!

  52. Cornelius Graafland
    April 7, 2014


  53. Dr Peter Davies
    April 7, 2014

    All Thomas’s work is awesome .Well done

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