aliciaunderwater aliciaunderwater

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Alicia Ward  Hawai'i + Photography + Freediving Dedicated to Ocean Education & Preservation Co-owner @SeeThroughSea

I took this image of @_jimward_ a while back when we were scouting locations for upcoming projects. I looked through the lens of the camera and, with the click of the shutter, my mind catalogued a memory I’ll always savor fondly: Exploring the ocean with my husband, playing with lighting in the shadows of a cave, staying in the water until we were shaking cold then, returning back to the boat and the warmth of the sun. Both our faces were covered in mask lines and smiles as we made our way home. @seethroughsea #seethroughsea

#Behindthescenes of yesterday’s post. @_jimward_ @real_life_is_underwater @sabricole and 3 of our @seethroughsea clients spent the morning with this mother & calf Southern Pacific Humpback Whale pair. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
To get yesterday’s image, I spent some time breathing up to oxygenate my brain and body. Then, I exhaled all of the air in my lungs which made me negatively buoyant and I allowed myself to silently sink below the surface. Bubbles can be disturbing to whales, as can excessive movement. I wanted to be as minimally invasive as possible, so a “sink” was how I chose to quietly and quickly dip below the surface. While my lack of oxygen meant the dive wasn’t a long one, it was enough for me to capture a few frames before calmly and carefully swimming back to the surface for air. Thanks go to Jim for documenting this moment. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If you’re interested in joining us in French Polynesia this year, check out the link in my bio for more info

I like watching animals and wondering what their agenda is for the day; I often realize that it’s probably not so dissimilar from my own: Sleep, eat, survive and play. We can become so engrossed in our “things” - our buildings, cars, cell phones, money and media outlets but, when it comes down to it, the actions we take throughout the day can often be assigned to one of those four aforementioned categories. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I wake up every morning, hopefully well rested and ready to start my day; I eat to fuel my body so I’m fully functional and alert; I work to support my lifestyle (a survival method - work keeps a roof over my head and food in my home); Then, I exercise and socialize with my husband, dogs, friends, you, etc. as form of play. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Working with wildlife reminds me of how I’m incorporated into the environment as a human. This isn’t a space I have ownership of, though I do feel an intrinsic responsibility to look after it and care for it as best I can. I’m often asked, “What exactly is your job?” Well, my decided job, as a member of the homosapien species (Order: Primates, Class: Mammalia, Phylum: Chordata, Kingdom: Animalia) is to act as a singular hard-working cog in this intricate mechanism of movement and life and to be a positive member that contributes to aiding and nurturing this space I share with others. @seethroughsea #seethroughsea

“Aren’t you afraid?” It’s the question I get asked most about working with sharks. The answer is an easy, “No.” I respect sharks and hold them in high regard but, I don’t fear them. When thinking about things that I do fear in the water, wreckless humans and unexpected rip currents take the lead. If given the opportunity, I’d spend all day with elasmobranchs 🦈 @seethroughsea

Every time I immerse myself in the cobalt blues of the deep ocean, I hope my eyes meet a sight like this ⬆️ Scalloped hammerheads are an endangered species and are one of the most bizarrely beautiful animals I’ve ever encountered. I’m grateful we had a rare opportunity to see them this past week 💙 It’s #worldwildlifeday everyday around these waters 😉 @seethroughsea #seethroughsea

I’ve been working on the ocean in Hawai’i for 13 years. In that time I’ve encountered Bottlenose dolphins on approximately 40 occasions and they were always rather uninterested in my presence. They’d echolocate me from afar and then go about their way, never approaching within 10m. Jim and I have joked for years that Hawaiian Bottlenose are simply “too cool” for humans and I believed that to be 100% true, until this ⬆️ day happened. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ @chelseakauai @_jimward_ and I watched in astonishment as a pod cooperatively hunted fish right in front of us. When they made a catch, they vocalized and appeared to celebrate the successful hunt. Then, they’d play with their food, bringing it up to us and dropping the fish, circling back around to collect it again. They’d dart and weave throughout our trio and one, in particular, appeared highly curious about us. He circled, swooped and spun around us while his companions searched for another fish to fill their bellies. Pictured here is that very dolphin. After having danced a circle around Chelsea, he rapidly approached me, swimming so close that I couldn’t keep him in frame. So, I simply let my camera fall to my side and took in the experience with my eyes. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I don’t expect to have another experience like this again but, my heart is content. It was markedly one of the best days of my life 💙 @seethroughsea

I took this photo of @chelseakauai a few days ago, on a night where we felt like we were living in a wildlife documentary. As the Manta we know locally as “Koie” swooped and circled effortlessly above us, we couldn’t help but feel awe-inspired by our surroundings. While many cast their dreams into a star-kissed night sky, my imagination’s been captured by the sea and I watch #mantaalfredi dance in my sleep. @seethroughsea #seethroughsea

At some point, I realized that holidays are so much less about the gifts and commercial rigamarole and so much more about taking time to appreciate the things/people/places you love. They’re markers in the calendar that remind us to take pause periodically and simply focus gratitude on what we have been blessed with. Today, I’m choosing to dedicate my time and energy towards the 3 things I love most, my family, my friends and the ocean. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Remember, Valentines come in all shapes and sizes - @chelseakauai ‘s just so happens to be a 12ft #mantaalfredi today 😉 @seethroughsea

@_jimward_ just posted his view of this moment. Go check it out on his page! Having the opportunity to do what I love, side by side with my husband, is something I don’t take for granted. Each new adventure we have is augmented by the fact that we experienced it jointly. From the most surreal events to the most unnerving, I cherish the days we come home and recount everything together. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
On this day in French Polynesia, this mother was resting and her calf went in and out of periods of play, rest and nursing. At this moment, the mother had surfaced with the calf perched perfectly on her nose and the pair glided towards Jim along the surface. It was a wondrous moment to document and a day well spent with my best friend. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
We’re holding another event in French Polynesia this year. If you’re interested in joining us for in-water experiences with whales, sharks and rays, check out the link in my bio and sign up for the adventure! @seethroughsea #seethroughsea #nikonnofilter #lovetahiti

@_jimward_ and I will be giving a talk later today at UH Hilo about our work @seethroughsea and how we’re trying to have a positive impact on our oceanic environment. If you can swing by, we’d love to meet you and answer any questions you may have! You can find us at MSB101 at 5pm - see you there! #seethroughsea #hawaiianspinnerdolphins

Underwater caves are one of my most favorite spaces to explore. Paying acute attention to the environment is paramount - entries, exits, swell movement, and sea life are all things to consider before committing to the dive; one poor decision can be costly. The reward of considering these factors and having a successful dive, for me, is unparalleled. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
In my mind, I’m moving through some of the oldest structures in existence; each cavernous system has a different story to tell. They remind me of the pyramids, the parthenon and other age-old monuments that hold secrets of history.
Assignments where I have the opportunity to work with inspiring creatives, like @travisburkephotography, and introduce them to a few of my most cherished spaces are my absolute favorite. This image was taken by Travis during our shoot for @matadornetwork @gmc 🐟

Moments like these remind me of how intricately beautiful new life is. I’m definitely not ready to have a mini of my own but, I do appreciate the unique bond between parent & offspring and I loved watching this newborn Humpback snuggle its mom 💙 Footage courtesy of my talented hubsman @_jimward_ @seethroughsea

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