Returning Sea and Learn lecturer Mark Moffett held a presentation titled “Adventures of Pollinators and Other Stories” at The Brigadoon restaurant in Windwardside on Friday. The overcrowded event was a visual delight regaled with sometimes hilarious and at times deeply moving personal adventure stories by the world class photographer.
Moffett is a Harvard Ph.D. conservationist, honoured by Explorers Club for his tree-climbing research and by Roy Chapman Andrews Society among others, but he loves to be introduced to the audience as a high school dropout. His most recent photography work is featured in the June 2011 issue of National Geographic, for which he has been a longstanding regular contributor. Moffett presented during last year’s Sea and Learn season his ant research. That research led to his latest book Adventures with Ants, a human-versus-ant society parallel account built on his travels to Borneo, Iran, Australia, Congo, the Amazon and other places. His ant photography exhibit was hosted by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC in 2009, and the exhibit is currently touring the United States.
Saba had the opportunity to enjoy his photography not just as an exhibit, but as a personal account from the man himself. This year’s presentation of pollinators was based on his work with Pollinator Partnership, a non-profit organisation seeking to educate people about the pollinator crises. Moffett’s presentation covered a wide spectrum of pollinators and their peculiar behaviour. Among the array of strange creatures on display, Moffett spoke for example of the orchid bee, which gathers the scent from various flowers and combines them to make the right mating perfume. Butterflies, hummingbirds, geckos, mice, squirrels, beetles, even mosquitoes were featured in the mesmerizing presentation, sprinkled with background information on the torments involved in capturing the shots.
The storytelling took the audience around the world to some of the most exotic places. Moffett talked of Socotra Island near Yemen, with its desert rose, dragon blood tree, cucumber lettuce trees and other rare plants maintained in an impressive ancient humannature balance. He spoke of adventures in Cambodia, on unpopulated Snake Island off Sao Paolo, Brazil, in Northern Burma/ Myanmar and the Tepui Region of Venezuela. The presentation extended to covering reptiles and even toxic frogs.
The reason Moffett explained in detail the arduous process of capturing the amazing shots was to encourage participants to take on similar challenges and contribute their own photography to nature magazines. Moffett offered a nature photography field trip to a select group of people who signed up early for an insect walk, organized by Sea and Learn on Saturday.