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Inspiring underwater photographer and ocean conservationist - Jillian Morris.

Updated: Feb 16

We aim to share inspiring stories of underwater photographers who are actively engaged in ocean conservation. We believe that learning from the experiences of others is the best way to learn.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Maine. I grew up on a lake and my parents also took me to the ocean a lot. I loved exploring tide pools and snorkeling and this love has never faded. I told my parents I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was 5. After university, I followed my passion which has taken me around the world to work on research projects, dive trips, and film shoots. I combined my science and media backgrounds to create Sharks4Kids. It’s an education nonprofit that teaches kids around the world about sharks. My husband and I are based in Bimini, The Bahamas and our life revolves around sharks ( he films for TV shows).  I have written 2 children’s books ( both about sharks). I have a rescued pitbull. I am a mom and love sharing the ocean and nature with my amazing daughter. She has started snorkeling and seeing her curiosity and joy is special.


What inspired you to specialize in underwater photography?

My mom always had a camera and took a lot of photos. As I got older I started using her camera and enjoyed it. The first boat I worked on had cameras and the owner encouraged me to try underwater photography and I loved it. It was challenging but amazing. I loved sharing the images with others and helping people see the ocean the way I do.


Can you share one of your most memorable experiences while photographing underwater?

We don’t get a lot of manta rays here in Bimini, so if you get to see one it’s really special. A few years back we spotted one and I slipped in the water to get a closer look. I had done a few drops and decided to do one last one before we headed to our destination. I paused in the water and the manta swam to me and then turned upside down and swam under me. It was such a beautiful moment to witness and it brought tears to my eyes. The ocean is incredible and I feel fortunate to spend as much time in the water as I do.


What challenges do you face as an underwater photographer, and how do you overcome them?

You never know what the ocean is going to do. Weather and the animals can all create natural challenges. There are also challenges created by people. I sold some images for a book and the author assumed they must be my husbands. Yes, my husband is a very talented photographer and videographer, but that doesn’t mean I am not. It was frustrating that the author ( a man) assumed they couldn’t possibly be my images even though I had sent them and sent my invoice.



Can you share any tips or advice for aspiring underwater photographers?

Shoot as much as possible with the camera you have! Get to know the camera and try a variety of shots underwater. Don’t be afraid to try new things and don’t forget to shoot images that make you happy. Don’t always shoot what you think will go viral or get lots of likes, take images that make you smile.


What are your favorite locations or dive sites for underwater photography, and why?

I live in The Bahamas and we have amazing animals ( lots of sharks) and really clear water. I love the diversity of species and habitats here ( corals, mangroves, and seagrass) to shoot in. The mangroves are one of my favorite places to visit and photograph. It’s a really special world and you never know what you will find there.


Have you ever encountered any unexpected or dangerous situations while photographing underwater?

I’ve been in strong currents and low-visibility situations where I had to get out of the water. The conditions can change quickly and it’s always important to stay alert. In my opinion, no photo or video is worth putting yourself in danger. Yes, diving and being in the ocean can always be dangerous, but it’s why we train to do so as safely as we can.


How do you think underwater photography can contribute to marine conservation efforts?

We need everyone to care about the ocean. Photos and videos can bring the ocean to people who cannot go to the ocean. They can help people see what is happening. They can also help people see the remarkable creatures and habitats that exist below the surface. Images are powerful and can inspire people of all ages. They can inspire people to visit the ocean, learn to scuba dive, or use less plastic and make more sustainable choices as a consumer.


Can you tell us about your foundation and your goals with it?

The goal of Sharks4Kids - , is to create the next generation of shark advocates through education, outreach, and adventure. We want to educate, empower, and inspire kids to take action for sharks and the oceans. We are using facts to change fear into fascination. We offer free education resources for students and educators. Our team visits schools and groups in person or virtually for a variety of shark-based lessons. We provide field trips and hands-on learning opportunities for students. We’ve taught over 200,000 students ( 80 countries virtually and 18 in person) around the world. We’ve also started our research project called Project Lemon Aid. We are studying juvenile lemon sharks in Turks and Caicos. The project is special because we bring local middle and high students to the field. They participate in all aspects of the research.

Here are some of Jillian's amazing photographs :

Credit: Jillian Morris


Credit: Jillian Morris

Credit: Jillian Morris

Jillian freediving with a great hammerhead Credit: Ko Chuan Yang 

Jillian photographing a tiger shark Credit: Danny Tayenaka 

Jillian teaching a student how to take length measurements during a scientific workup of a juvenile lemon shark Credit: Leann Winn 

Jillian teaching students about sharks Credit Michelle Jensen 

Jillian with lemon sharks Credit: Duncan Brake 

Check out more of Jillian's work here -

Instagram @biminisharkgirl , @sharkeducation 



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