Hakai Magazine


One Great Shot: Paddling in Paradise

A fisherman floats home at sunset over a vibrant coral reef in Papua New Guinea.

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by Grant Thomas

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coral reef and paddler

At the end of a fulfilling day spent photographing local dive sites off Papua New Guinea’s Lissenung Island, I was heading back to my resort as the sun was setting. The tide was low enough that the coral reef below us was almost breaking the water’s surface, giving me the perfect opportunity to snap an “over-under” shot.

Lissenung is a private island with a house reef—a coral reef near the shore of a resort that divers can easily access without needing a boat. It’s probably one of the healthiest, most vibrant reefs I’ve ever encountered. My plan was simple: capture all that beauty in a single shot with the island as the centerpiece. However, fate had a different plan. I noticed a local fisherman leisurely paddling home after a long day on the water. As he glided gracefully past the island in his canoe, the fisherman became the new focal point. All it took was the press of a button to immortalize the moment.

From thriving reefs to lush mangroves, Papua New Guinea’s marine and coastal diversity make it a real paradise. But there’s a catch. As the country’s population grows, islanders lean heavily on coastal resources for food and work. This image, for me, represents that delicate balance between admiring nature’s splendor and the urgent need to conserve it.

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Cite this Article: Grant Thomas “One Great Shot: Paddling in Paradise,” Hakai Magazine, Dec 14, 2023, accessed June 22nd, 2024, https://hakaimagazine.com/videos-visuals/one-great-shot-paddling-in-paradise/.

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