Keith Ellenbogen, an acclaimed underwater photographer, is an Assistant Professor of Photography at SUNY/Fashion Institute of Technology and a Visiting Artist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sea Grant. He is also a multi-year Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Award grantee, selected by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation to capture dramatic images about the extraordinary diversity of marine life within Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, just 25 nautical miles off the coast of Boston. Keith was invited to present images and stories with congressional leaders to raise ocean awareness about local marine life during Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), which took place June 4-6, 2019.
Keith’s project showcases the dynamic underwater world of Stellwagen Bank through underwater photography and environmental storytelling. Keith goes beyond conventional sea-level views to reveal the complete Stellwagen ecosystem, from its iconic humpback whales to its tiniest microscopic creatures, which are even visible from space. Combining cutting-edge photographic techniques, including 360˚VR, satellite imagery, and microscopy, with conservation messaging, Keith’s goal is to increase awareness and generate public engagement about Stellwagen Bank and marine conservation.
During CHOW, hosted by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Keith was one of many constituents that took advantage of the unique opportunity to engage their congressional representatives at CHOW’s Hill Day. Hill Day reflects a need for the marine and Great Lakes community to apply the discussions and lessons from the CHOW conference toward policy change. Elected officials are in position to take positive actions for the ocean, and they gain valuable perspective from their constituents who take the time to spread messages of ocean conservation.
On Thursday morning, Keith was an exhibitor at the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Ocean Expo. He debuted images from conservation photography assignments around the world and featured his project focusing on creating awareness about Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, including images of a great white sharks, tiny planktonic organisms, and mola mola, or ocean sunfish.
Keith presented his project and the work he is doing for sanctuary exposure to staff from the offices of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. He also met with staff with Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-5), Congressman Bill Keating (MA-9), Congressman Seth Moulton (MA-6), Congressman Stephen Lynch (MA-8), Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) and Congressman Joe Kennedy (MA-4).
The meetings were productive first steps in engaging policy makers in the wonders of the national marine sanctuary right in their backyards, and urging their support for measures to protect it.
Project Website: https://space2sea.mit.edu/