ARGOMENTO: FOTOGRAFIA SUBACQUEA
PERIODO: XX – XXI SECOLO
AREA: STATI UNITI
parole chiave: fotografia
Ho avuto il piacere di poter intervistare una grande fotografa americana, Lynn Funkhouser. Lynn, che fa parte del “Women Divers Hall of Fame“, è una fotografa, autrice, docente, ambientalista, e leader nel settore delle immersioni. Nei suoi viaggi, si è immersa ed ha fotografato oltre 260 isole nelle Filippine, passandoci due mesi ogni anno dal 1975.
Lynn fu nominata “Subacquea dell’anno” nel 2014 per i suoi meriti artistici sotto il mare. Come ambientalista, Lynn è una donna molto impegnata socialmente e unisce la sua passione per la fotografia ad un grande impegno ambientalista per la protezione dell’ambiente marino. Come leggerete passa molto tempo dell’anno nelle Filippine dove collabora a ricerche scientifiche sugli ecosistemi locali. Ma ora leggiamo la storia della sua vita dalle sue parole:
Hi Lynn, thanks to accept this interview and find the time to tell about your adventurous Life. Please introduce yourself, the floor is yours.
Well. Andrea, I started diving in 1967 so this year will be my 50th year of diving. It has given me more joy than most everything else in my life. I was one of the lucky ones to discover my passion rather early in my life. I am adventurous, creative, kind, honest, & tenacious. Lately I have been depressed over our “leadership” in Washington as it systematically destroys everything we have worked so hard to accomplish. We must work even harder! I was born in the small town of Napoleon, Ohio, population 5000. I was a “tomboy” so loved spending a lot of time on my grandparent’s farm exploring the creek and woods, riding my cousin’s horse, climbing all sorts of fruit trees, milking cows, collecting eggs, and picking all kinds of vegetables and berries.
My nickname in school was “Nature Girl” which I liked to the dismay of those trying to bully me. Since there wasn’t a lot to do in Napoleon, I took up roller-skating. It was a great outlet for my energy & my mom liked it a bit better than my playing football, etc. I ended up taking it to the next level, driving to Toledo for lessons, being in shows and competing. I continued my skating through college and into my airline job. I graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1964. Hard to believe, but my choices back then were becoming a teacher, nurse, or secretary, none of which appealed to me. I didn’t even declare a major until my senior yr. When interviewing for teaching jobs I couldn’t get hired because schools didn’t want a teacher competing in skating competitions wearing a short skirt.
Most of what happened to me I call “Happy Accidents”. Lucky for me, United Airlines was interviewing on campus and a 2nd interview was a flight to Pittsburg. It was very exciting as I had never been on an airplane. I then interviewed with 5 other airlines with no plans to take a job, just wanting the free passes. However, Trans World Airlines (TWA) made me want the job. I was engaged and packed and unpacked seven times, and finally left for training promising to quit and return to Ohio in 2 years. Once I completed TWA training, I was based in Chicago where I still reside. Working as a hostess was an interesting and flexible job with a lot of free time and free passes. I took Mom thru 11 countries in Europe, around the world twice, to Asia, etc. and she still wanted me to quit and go back to Ohio and teach. When working a flight into Phoenix, the plane hit severe turbulence and I hit the ceiling resulting in my being in neck and back braces for 14 months, ending my skating career. During that time my fiancé was killed in a car crash so my life was completely turned upside down.
When I came out of the braces in 1967, I accompanied friends diving in Bimini, Bahamas, & it changed my life. Diving opened my eyes to another world, the most beautiful place I had ever seen, AND it was therapy. I had discovered my passion! I look back & consider myself lucky to replace skating with diving so I could still be focused & dedicated. The best part was all the interactions I could have with critters, the diversity, the travel and finding a sport I could participate into my later years.
Since I no longer had a reason to leave the airlines, I decided I would stay and “fly to support my diving habit”. It was the perfect job with lots of time off and free passes. My subsequent guy had a camera store and I received brown paper bags with a camera body or lens for Christmas & birthdays so decided I might as well learn how to use them.
Instead of exploring cathedrals and temples above water, I was visiting them underwater and I wanted to capture the beauty! I was always one to try to perfect whatever I attempted so it was the ultimate challenge and a creative outlet. I really only intended to show photos to my friends as not many were diving, but soon was being invited to speak at Our World Underwater and other shows followed. The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago opened their 90,000-gallon Caribbean Reef Tank in 1971 and I decided, that it being the largest body of water in the Midwest, I had to dive in it. It took about 6 weeks and interventions from friends to convince the director to allow me. Actually He didn’t want to see women’s legs in his tank so bought me a ¼ inch farmer John wetsuit to wear in water that got to be around 90F in Summers).
I dove every dive most every weekend for 2 years and made friends with all the critters, especially the two 7 foot moray eels, Mort and Maria. I also got to follow the aquarists around gaining knowledge plus hung out in their library! It turned out that I was the “Original Volunteer”. There are now over 600 volunteers and it takes at least a year to advance to diving in the reef tanks.
I would bid my flights to do diving related things. I left my dive gear in Boston & dove in their 200,000-gallon tank on my layovers. I also dove in the Hong Kong Aquarium’s 350,000-gallon tank when I was there. When the chambered nautilus were hatching at the Waikiki Aquarium, I would bid trips to be there to get the photos. I also bid Las Vegas to ride horses and go to all the free dinner shows + any event or concert wherever.
In 1975 I was in diving in Guam and was invited on a medical Mission to the Philippines. After the mission, I went to Anilao and made two dives. I had never seen so many nudibranchs, so returned there within months. Since then I have spent 2 to 3 months per year, every year, diving 261 islands out of the 7,641 islands of the Philippines.
I continued diving other destinations, but the Philippine was my “Gold Standard” and always felt it was the best. Now scientists have proven that the Verde Island Passage, which encompasses Anilao & Puerto Galera, IS the richest area in the world! How lucky was I to happen upon it in 1975, even before there were resorts, and be able to dive it every year! I recently learned that Luzon Island has the most mammals of anywhere else in the world!
I am mostly known for my diving in the Philippines as I have been spending 2 to 3 months per year, every year, since 1975 and diving 261 islands. However I dove Bimini often; Grand Bahama Banks; Belize yearly from ’67-’80; Galapagos one month each in ’71, ’72, ’73, & ‘77; the Caymans often; Bonaire often; St. Croix; St. Thomas; Roatan; St. Lucia; Haiti; The Dry Tortola’s; Florida; California; La Paz & Acapulco; both coasts of Australia; the Rowley Shoals; Red Sea; Guam; Palau & Chuuk, Micronesia; Hong Kong; Ishigaki, Japan; Oahu, Big Island & Maui, Hawaii; Komodo Island area of Indonesia, etc.
In 1985 I went to a meeting to show my photos to some scientists to prove that the Philippines was worth saving. As a result, we founded the International Marinelife Alliance to tackle destructive fishing methods. I lived with the blast fishers & cyanide fishers to get the photos. We taught the blast fishers to catch fish with a hook & line & use a needle to decompress them so they could sell them live for 10 times more than a blasted fish. We taught the cyaniders how to catch fish with barrier & hand nets and get more money for a net caught fish than for a cyanided fish. My photos were also used to save Shiraho Reef in Ishigaki, Japan, from having an airport runway built over it. IMA, Canada was the first environmental group to stop a Japanese project.
Shiraho Coral Reef & The Proposed New Ishigaki Island Airport. (Review of the status of the coral reefs of the Ryukyu Archipelago, Japan). Prepared by the International Marinelife Alliance Canada, for the Species Survival Commission, International Union for the Conservation of the Nature and Natural Resources, Switzerland, (IUCN) was the research book produced.
When the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago decided to build a permanent exhibit focusing on Apo Island, a model sanctuary, I was hired to be a consultant, as I had become an expert on the Philippines. It is a $49 million, 1500 square foot, 8 years in the planning, permanent exhibit called Wild Reef. My photos were also used as models to make the realistic fake corals & some of my photos were used in the exhibit. Because I fell in love with the Philippines & almost no Filipinos realized the amazing treasures they possessed, I have spent many years educating their Department of Tourism of their incredible riches and especially to protect their amazing resources. It is heart warming to watch fishers become guides, instructors, & boatmen for divers. Many have become outstanding photographers & critter finders and are making much more money protecting their reefs than fishing!
A “happy accident” is that I have been able to share my passion with my photos and presentations to people all over the world! Having been diving since 1967, I have seen so many changes so it is even more important to teach people to protect our oceans and waterways.
As an environmentalist, Lynn is committed to making a difference on this planet through her images and lectures. Small things that make a big difference would be voting only for candidates that believe in Climate Change and who want to do something about it. Otherwise vote them out! Stop releasing balloons! Think of all the wildlife you will save and all the plastic that won’t litter our land and waters! Carry your own reusable water bottle, eating utensils and container for leftover food. Eat less meat and more plant based protein. Boycott companies that pollute our lands and waterways. We must tackle our enormous plastic pollution problems, our over fishing, runoff from fields and erosion.
We have to stop building on every inch of our coastlines. People need to treat our oceans and waterways like the precious treasures they are. Without the water and the oxygen they provide, there will be no life. Follow your dreams, as you will never regret your life. Try to leave the planet better than when you arrived.
Lynn leads yearly trip to various destinations in the Philippines. She can be contacted at email@example.com-
Lynn was inducted into the inaugural:
Women Divers Hall of Fame, 2000.
Pioneers, leaders, innovators and world record holders throughout the international diving community. Members support the underwater world and associated careers by promoting opportunities for women and men in diving through scholarships, internships and mentorship opportunities and a worldwide network of industry contacts.
Society of Woman Geographers, Inducted 2008
Adventurers and significant contributors to world knowledge. Fellow honorees include Amelia Earhart, Pearl Buck, Eugenie Clark, Sylvia Earle, Jane Goodall, and Margaret Mead. Records of each member’s personal and professional accomplishments are available through the Library of Congress, available to scholars worldwide.
Accomplished Graduate, Bowling Green State University, 2008
Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame, Napoleon Area Schools, 2009
Diver of the Year in Arts, Beneath the Sea, 2014
Ambassador of Good Will, Illinois Council of Skin and Scuba Diving (ICSSD), 2006
Specifically created to honor Lynn’s support of local dive clubs and advocacy of reef protection around the world.
Environmental Awareness Award, SEASPACE/PADI 1994 For recognition of outstanding effort in the cause of marine conservation & education “for her continuing efforts promoting reef preservation in the Philippines and around the world”.
Lifetime Achievement Award, Philippine Aquatic and Marinelife Conservationist’s Association, Inc. (PAMARCON), 1986 For “outstanding contributions on behalf of conservation and preservation of the marine environment of the Philippines.”
SSI Platinum Pro 5000 Diver, 1993
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ammiraglio della Marina Militare Italiana (riserva), è laureato in Scienze Marittime della Difesa presso l’Università di Pisa ed in Scienze Politiche cum laude all’Università di Trieste. Analista di Maritime Security, collabora con Centri di studi e analisi geopolitici italiani ed internazionali. E’ docente di cartografia e geodesia applicata ai rilievi in mare presso l’I.S.S.D.. Nel 2019, ha ricevuto il Tridente d’oro dell’Accademia delle Scienze e Tecniche Subacquee per la divulgazione scientifica.