Seahorse photo highlights perils of marine pollution

Mr Justin Hofman's photograph, titled Sewage Surfer, was taken at a reef near Indonesia's Sumbawa Island and is part of the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Exhibition in London.
Mr Justin Hofman's photograph, titled Sewage Surfer, was taken at a reef near Indonesia's Sumbawa Island and is part of the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Exhibition in London. PHOTO: JUSTIN HOFMAN / INSTAGRAM

JAKARTA • A tiny seahorse grasping a pink cotton bud in murky water. This image captured by American nature photographer Justin Hofman has placed the spotlight on ocean pollution after it went viral this past week.

The image, titled Sewage Surfer, is part of the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Exhibition by London's Natural History Museum.

Mr Hofman is one of the finalists in the Wildlife Photographer Of The Year competition. The photograph was taken at a reef near Indonesia's Sumbawa Island.

Posting on Instagram last Tuesday, Mr Hofman wrote that "it's a photo that I wish didn't exist but that now that it does, I want everyone to see it".

"What started as an opportunity to photograph a cute little seahorse turned into one of frustration and sadness as the incoming tide brought with it countless pieces of trash and sewage," he wrote.

He added that the photo is an allegory for the current and future state of our oceans.

"What sort of future are we creating? How can your actions shape our planet?" he added.

He said the seahorse "drifts along with the trash, day in and day out, as it rides the currents that flow along the Indonesian archipelago".

Indonesia is the world's second- largest producer of marine pollution, dumping 3.22 million tonnes of plastic debris per year, the Washington Post reported on Friday, citing data published in 2015 by journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The country has vowed to reduce such waste by 70 per cent by the end of 2025, according to the United Nations.

Mr Hofman, 33, told the Washington Post that his photo, and others like it, can be catalysts to create change.

"We are really affecting our oceans with our negligence and our ignorance," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 17, 2017, with the headline 'Seahorse photo highlights perils of marine pollution'. Print Edition | Subscribe