Gray whale in San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja California, Mexico Photo © Carwardine/WWF-Canon

Gray whale in San Ignacio Lagoon, Baja California, Mexico Photo © Carwardine/WWF-Canon

The old schooner purchased from a fisherman, cut through the icy waters of Glacier Bay, cruising along the picturesque Alaska coastline towards a pod of six massive humpback whales bubble-feeding at the surface of the water.  Getting closer,  the salt sprays over the travelers in the boat, as the whales breach over and over again.  Prepared for this, the young but practiced 33-year old reaches for one of the most powerful weapons in wildlife conservation today – a camera.

As part of an elite team of nature photographers, videographers, and biologists, Florian Shultz aims to document and capture never-before-seen images of the many great wildlife migrations along the 6,000 mile corridor that connects the Beaufort Sea of Northern Alaska to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. It is this life that these waters have in common.

Florian Schulz’s WWF 2014 National Tour presentation, Freedom to Roam: Baja to Beaufort, propelled the audience into his daily life –filled with adventure, passion, purpose and the thrill of discovery.

Florian traveled along a major  corridor route, from the coasts of the Pacific Rainforests of British Columbia, to the frigid waters north of Alaska, and down to the tropical waters of Baja.  Along the journey, Florian masterfully showcases a planet that is not merely an assemblage of unique environments and distinct biomes, but rather one that is wholly contiguous.  One where wildlife have the freedom to roam thousands of miles, as they cyclically traverse between rich feeding grounds and protected areas in which to raise their young.

No matter how deep an understanding one has about the biological processes that govern migration, or the seasonal weather patterns that shape environments and wildlife behavior, Florian’s photos make you see the world differently.  The world appears connected, symbiotic and stronger, too, because of the myriad connections between animals and their environment that allow all of life to thrive.

The vast, expansive areas of pristine wilderness photographed by Shultz make you believe that this beauty is ubiquitous. However, the rarity of this beauty imposes itself ominously as the ever-growing risks that threaten corridors between seemingly disparate regions of the world (i.e., tropical Baja and arctic Beaufort) come to light.  How could unpredictable winter weather in Mexico alter the integrity of the entire north pole ecosystem?  The causes are complex, but the prevention of such a catastrophe is not, and at the center of the solution is increased awareness on part of our global society.

Awareness that leads to action. Florian puts it best, his “project consists not only in powerful imagery, it is also a combination of visual elements that allows a project to reach its goal: to inspire, to educate and empower people to take action.”

 Travel to see whales with WWF & NatHab