Diving on the ocean, something he's passionate about, Zapata has devoted his free time to the environment. But no cause is more important to him than protection of the sea. He is a lifelong diver and explorer.
Photo Cred By Pablo Zapata Aramburuzabala
An advocate for the ocean with a passion for capturing life under the sea, Pablo Zapata opens up about what got him into diving and his love for the ocean.
What got you interested in diving?
I studied at SMU in Dallas where we were required to take a Wellness class, the class I felt most attracted to was a diving course to become a certified diver. The experience was a nightmare; it took a whole semester to get certified versus the seven days that a regular open water diving course takes. Furthermore, it was winter and Dallas gets quite cold that time of the year. Our training took place at the university diving pool, but the final test was in a lake in the outskirts of Dallas. Diving in this lake was my first diving experience and just like the training, it wasn't very exciting. The weather was below zero degrees Celsius and after our first descent we hit the bottom of the lake and stirred the sediment which in turn reduced our visibility and made a giant steel shark, the main attraction of the lake, invisible. Anyway, I finished my training and got certified; however, I was not motivated to continue diving. A couple of months after my course, my mother told me she wanted to organize a diving trip to Indonesia, which got me very excited because Indonesia is one of the top diving destinations in the world. After my first dive in Indonesia, I fell completely in love with the experience and I knew it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
What have been your expectations up until now?
I´m very lucky to have met Manuel Lazcano, he is not only one of the nicest people I know, but also one of the best divers/photographers in the world and a fellow ocean advocate in Mexico. I want to keep learning from him, visit and dive in new places, learn more about marine life and document it all with my camera.
Which is your favorite destination to disconnect under water?
In Mexico we have countless places to dive, but it's hard to choose one as my favorite since each location is unique and each dive offers a completely different adventure. For example, in Cozumel you will find a lot of coral reef and a vast biodiversity, but there aren't any large mammals, with the exception of a few sharks and turtles. In Cancun, you will find big rays, whale sharks and sailfish, but no coral reef like in Cozumel. I have yet to discover many places such as the Sea of Cortez, named the world's aquarium by renowned diver and explorer Jacques Cousteau, dive in the mysterious cenotes of Tulum, and swim with crocodiles in Chinchorro, amongst many others. I believe that what makes diving exciting is the mystery behind every dive, not knowing what you will encounter and the opportunity to discover new places and worlds beneath the ocean.
Which is your vision for ocean preservation?
The sheer size of the ocean makes us believe we can't damage it, sort of like Goliath vs David; however, the exponential increase in population led us to frivolously exploit natural resources and the damage is clear. Commercial fishing has killed 90% of large fish species like tuna and sharks, and global warming has destroyed most of the worlds coral, which is a fundamental component of our ecosystem. Indonesia is the only place in the world where coral has endured increasing water temperatures and for this reason Indonesia is key for our ocean's future. I believe that with ideas like the one that Silvia Earle proposes in her documentary https://www.mission-blue.org/, or what the guys in http://www.mexicopelagico.org/ accomplished, we can reach a balance in our use of the ocean's natural resources and restore fish populations without adverse effects to the fisherman's economy.
Which is your message to ocean preservation?
I encourage people to go diving or snorkeling and interact with animals; I'm sure that just like me they will fall in love with the ocean and will make it their mission to protect it.