The Safina Center

John Weller filming Guardians of Raja Ampat.John Weller filming Guardians of Raja Ampat.Photo taken by: Shawn Heinrichs

John Weller – Safina Center Fellow

John Weller is a critically acclaimed photographer, writer and filmmaker whose work ranges from shark protection in Micronesia to Ross Sea (Antarctica) conservation.

Weller has been a SeaWeb Fellow since 2005 and was named a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation in 2009. His library of Ross Sea photographs has been used by conservation organizations all over the world, published in dozens of magazines and publications, including National Geographic; and showcased at the 2009 and 2011 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings. Weller also produced a short film, which was a finalist in the 2010 Blue Ocean Festival.

Weller works directly to promote marine protections around the world. An impassioned observer of nature, he has followed a path through the Colorado Desert to the waters of the Antarctic. He started The Last Ocean Project with Antarctic ecologist David Ainley in 2004, and has been working on Ross Sea conservation since. His latest book, The Last Ocean, was developed through close cooperation with scientists, policy-makers, and conservation organizations invested in the Ross Sea. Working closely with partner Shawn Heinrichs, Weller recently helped spearhead conservation campaigns in the Bahamas, Micronesia, and in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

Since beginning his fellowship (2/1/2014) Weller has been working to complete an innovative campaign to inform and inspire the people of Raja Ampat, Indonesia to protect their coral reefs. Villagers of Raja Ampat are guardians at the heart of the coral triangle, the very center of global marine biodiversity.  And villages in this region are empowered by a nationally-recognized, traditional, marine tenure system— or “adat”—which gives them control over their marine resources.

In late November 2014, Weller and partner Shawn Heinrich took their “Guardians of Raja Ampat” film and outreach campaign to the capital of Raja Ampat (Waisai) and its 12 district “capital villages.” Each showing was a major event with villagers gathered around a giant community outdoor theater. Papua’s most famous singer, Edo Kondologit, volunteered his time for nearly 3 weeks to headline the tour. His presence ensured huge crowds at each showing. The tour concluded with a showing at the US Embassy’s “@America” venue in Jakarta.

Weller and Shawn have posted a beautiful blog about their successful Raja Ampat campaign here.

See the film (in Indonesian and with English subtitles) and read more about the project here.

The Safina Center fellowship for Weller’s work in Raja Ampat helped support much of his travel from the U.S. to Indonesia and back,  filming and interviews on site and some of the post-production.