Artist & Photographer Pushes Conservation
Guy Harvey is known worldwide for his marine paintings and photography.
But at the heart of his art is his passion for marine conservation, and he travels the oceans trying to protect the life that flourishes beneath.
His love of ocean life can easily be traced to his childhood in southwest Jamaica, where he grew up fishing with his parents – a rich experience that inspired him to do his doctoral dissertation in marine science and biology.
“Living in Jamaica was awesome,” Harvey said in a telephone interview. “At that time, it had a lot of rain forest. It was a beautiful place to be and we were near a lot of nature.”
Harvey and others concerned about the welfare of sharks persuaded the Bahamian legislature to outlaw commercial shark fishing. The Bahamas became the fourth nation in the world to ban such damage to the ocean’s ecosystem.
“I felt really good. It was a mission accomplished,” he said. Harvey believes that this ban on commercial shark fishing is a crucial step in banning the exploitation of these fish worldwide.
Scientists estimate that more than 70 million sharks are killed each year and some say they think the decision by the Bahamian government may influence other countries to take similar action.
Harvey says he is afraid that the shark population will be at risk if commercial fishing continues. The mako, thresher and hammerhead sharks are being directly affected. Many biologists and marine scientists fear a future of extinction because sharks are naturally slow to reproduce.
To remove these sharks, Harvey said, “is going to have ecological consequences. We don’t know what those will be, but I’d say maybe it’s too late.”
Harvey, a member of the Society of Animal Artists, got his big start in the art world by debuting two collections of pen-and-ink drawings titled “The Young Men and the Sea,” with the permission of the family of Ernest Hemingway, who wrote The Old Man and the Sea.
He has published a few books filled with art that instantly became collectors’ items. Among those are Panama Paradise and Portraits from the Deep, which the Fox Florida TV Network turned into a television fishing program.
Harvey is the founder of the Guy Harvey Ocean Fund and NOVA Southeastern University’s Guy Harvey Research Institute. He encourages shark studies that keep track of shark migration patterns and tagging.
The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation gives back to the environment. In one fund-raiser with Bealls Department stores the foundation took in $500,000 over a few weeks from the sale of two t-shirt designs. The money was giving to universities for research in the Gulf of Mexico after BP oil disaster.
“It’s been an exciting 20 years,” says Harvey’s personal assistant, Michele Grey. “The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation teaches children about the environment in hopes that the information will get back to their parents.”
Harvey’s staff seems to share a strong admiration for the work that he does and who he is as a person.
“I often refer to Guy as the Audubon of the seas,” says John Bell, Harvey’s publicist.
“To know Guy Harvey is to appreciate his basic humanity and ability to build bridges with all generations and cultures. It’s truly an honor to work with Guy as I consider him one of the world’s heroes.”