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Looking Beneath the Surface with Ralph Pace

As much as we bring Ocean Connectors students into direct contact with the ocean and marine life, sometimes it takes a talented photographer to convince kids what really lives beneath the surface in their own backyard, the Pacific Ocean. For that, we turn to professional photographers who are kind enough to let us share their incredible underwater photos with our students.

Ralph Pace discovered his natural talent for SCUBA and a blossoming career in underwater photography almost by accident. His photographs, which are featured throughout the Ocean Connectors website and on the Ocean Connectors van, have an unbelievable way of capturing the magic of marine species in their natural environments, from sea turtles, sharks, and whales, to small invertebrates and plant life.

Ocean Connectors Executive Director Frances Kinney had the good fortune of meeting Ralph and his wife Kristen at a San Diego dogpark in 2008. Their shared interest in letting their dogs (Dexter and Lennie) run and play fetch evolved into a conversation about marine life protection and careers. Shortly thereafter, Frances welcomed Ralph as an intern with Ocean Connectors, where he helped with youth field trips, outreach events, and of course, taking photos.

After Ralph completed his internship, he continued to be an inspiration for Ocean Connectors and our team by working in a variety of marine education and research positions including conducting sea turtle research in Costa Rica and white seabass research in San Diego before deciding to attend graduate school to take his career to the next level. Ralph and Frances attended the Scripps Institution of Oceanography together during 2012-2013, both receiving Master’s Degrees in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. After graduation, Ralph returned to Costa Rica where he served as the Field Coordinator for the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s Tortuguero station, the largest and longest-running sea turtle conservation effort in the world. It was there that Ralph first saw the incredible power of photography when applied to marine science and conservation efforts.

Today, Ralph works with a variety of scientists and conservation groups in San Diego documenting sea turtles, swordfish, sharks, and bluefin tuna. Ralph currently spends winters in Maui working with Whale Trust to photograph humpback whale behaviors alongside legendary National Geographic photographer Flip Nicklin.

Ralph’s unique talent for capturing incredible underwater images was recognized by the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award in 2016. His work has been published by the Smithsonian, Discover, GEO, Nature, and National Geographic, among others. He possesses an amazing ability to find and photograph rare species of marine life that most of us would be lucky to ever see in person. Originally from Virginia, his travels have taken him to six continents and nearly 30 countries. One of Ralph’s next big adventures is fatherhood, as he and Kristen recently welcomed a beautiful baby daughter.

You can purchase one of Ralph’s stunning majestic images on his website A portion of each sea turtle print sale benefits The Sea Turtle Conservancy, helping their organization continue to protect and conserve sea turtles for years to come. At Ocean Connectors we are eagerly waiting to see where Ralph’s photographic adventures take him next, and we couldn’t be prouder of our small role in his impressive journey.

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