During Thursday’s National Geographic Live presentation at the Paramount Theater, David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes will be taking audiences under the waters of Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea to explore a coral neighborhood pulsing with biodiversity. Before you can catch your breath, it’ll be time to head to Antarctica to glide in silence along shipwrecks and icebergs and amid the clamor of leopard seals and penguins.
The adventure then sweeps audience members to Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence to document the lives of whales, salmon and the remarkable harp seal. Along the way, Doubilet and Hayes will share moments large and small from the everyday miracle of life below the waves.
“When you’ve caught the moment, it’s the most extraordinary thing,” said Doubilet, who has logged more than 26,000 hours chasing underwater wonders.
Doubilet is one of National Geographic magazine’s most prolific photographers; Hayes is an aquatic biologist and a photojournalist to boot. The spouses share a passion for the marvels of the undersea world — and joy in sharing what they find with others.
“We take the audience basically from the Equator to the Southern Ice to the Arctic,” Hayes said. “These environments are about as different as you can get. It’s knock-you-out exciting.”
Each plays up the other’s strengths. “I come to [photography] from a scientific background, and he approaches it more artistically,” Hayes said.
Doubilet said it’s important to present a balanced look at the state of the world’s oceans. Despite often dire news about damage wrought by climate change and dumped plastics, for example, there are numerous stories of habitats on the rebound and conservation efforts that are paying off. Doubilet said it’s important to call attention to what’s going right in different places around the world; otherwise, the enormity of the task of protecting ocean life could seem too daunting.
“We’re documenting the times and changes that, in the future, may disappear, but there’s good news, too. Going off the back of the boat is still a voyage of discovery,” Doubilet said. “Energizing people’s hopes is really energizing their communities.”
“We’re sharing the secrets of the seas,” Hayes said. “There’s some good news out there, and we really like sharing it. It’s a gift to be able to share some good news.”
Everyday wonders are available to everyone, whether or not one gets the chance to dive in the oceans. Hayes said it never hurts to be reminded that fascinating aquatic life can be observed in the lakes, rivers and ponds near people’s homes and recreation spots.
“There’s never, ever a boring day in a pond,” she said. “It’s as exciting in a pond as in the Pacific.”
Both Doubilet and Hayes express thanks for fellow National Geographic photographers past and present. “Everybody stands on each other’s shoulders,” Doubilet said.
Hayes also values the opportunity to pay it forward and help tomorrow’s photographers.
“It’s great to recognize those who came before you, and you become a set of shoulders for emerging photographers,” she said, adding how much the couple relishes the enthusiasm that up-and-coming photographers bring to the work and the art form.
Thursday’s presentation will cover aspects of underwater photography from the magnificent to the mundane. Between moments of amazement, there are plenty of things that sting, stink and prompt a person to swim a little faster. For this team, the wonders are worth it.
“You just put yourself out there, and respect the animals,” Hayes said. “And you know when it’s time to get out of the water.”
Next in the National Geographic Live series at the Paramount will be “Shannon Wild: Pursuit of the Black Panther” at 7 p.m. Feb. 7, 2020, and “Kevin Hand: The Search for Life Beyond Earth” at 7 p.m. May 8.
For details and tickets, go to theparamount.net, drop by the Paramount’s box office from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays or dial (434) 979-1333.