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Seal Peace

Seal Peace is a project I am working on about Pinnipeds around the world. The term seal is commonly used to refer to members of the suborder Pinnipedia, a group of fin-footed marine mammals that are divided into three families: Phocidae, which are known as earless or true seals, Otariidae, which are known as eared seals and include sea lions and fur seals, and Odobenidae whose only existing member is the walrus. Thirty-four species of Pinnipeds live on the coastlines of all seven continents (and some lakes too!). Their environments are vastly different, from tropical waters to frozen ice sheets.

So far I have observed seventeen species and have had the opportunity to dive with ten of them. Pinnipeds mostly mate, give birth and raise their young on land, which can be beautiful to document. However, most of the time they come on land to rest. I believe underwater photography is essential to the project because it is underwater that they are in their element and extremely graceful. I have seen amazingly beautiful things, such as the tender interactions between a mother and her pup. I have also seen things that make my heart break, such as sea lions tangled in nets and playing with plastic.

I wish to share the stories of these charismatic marine mammals as a way to engender an appreciation not only for each individual species, but as a way to appreciate their diverse environments and the challenges these environments are facing. Each species has something to teach us. Everything on Earth is connected.

Nauticam Gear: Nauticam D500 housing, Nauticam 4.33" Acrylic Mini Dome Port and Nauticam 8.5" Acrylic Dome Port

Celia Kujala is an international award-winning wildlife and underwater photographer born and currently living in New York City. From the moment she saw California sea lions for the first time at the Prospect Park Zoo when she was fourteen months old, she has felt a special bond with them. However, it wasn't until she got scuba certified and started underwater photography in 2017 that she felt she found her true calling. As a researcher by trade, she strives to learn everything she can about her subjects before she meets them in order to most accurately and intimately tell their stories. She is honored to be a member of the Explorers Club and a prior recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship.

Instagram: @celiakujala