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Since the world saw the first underwater video footage more than 70 years ago, viewers have been enthralled by blue-tinted colourful shots and seemingly serene existence of aquatic life. However, one producer of these documentaries wanted to show the world’s ugly underbelly of our oceans today and the impact of modern capitalistic consumerism.
Jo Ruxton, 63, has spent most of her professional life underwater. After nearly 30 years of passionate campaigning and working on some of the most stunning underwater films including BBC’s Blue Planet, she wanted to show the world the true state of the oceans under the surface.
During an interview with the GulfWeekly on her recent trip to Bahrain, which she had visited for an even shorter stint when she was nine, Jo said: “What I found frustrating about working with the BBC was that we were always showing the oceans as if they were clean and that they were full of fish. Of course, that wasn’t what we were seeing. I felt that if we kept portraying that as the situation in the oceans, then people would keep treating them the way they have been.
“They would keep taking too many fish out and putting too much trash in there. People deserve to know the truth. I was always trying to send a conservation message but I was always told that people aren’t interested. They want good news stories. I thought, well, that’s strange. How come they watch the news four times a day? They rarely get good news there. I took this idea to the BBC and after they said they weren’t interested, in 2008, I decided to leave and do it myself.”
After spending more than eight years finding investors, subjects, researching statistics and shooting in locations like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, her labour of love was complete. A Plastic Ocean was screened for a small but packed room in 2017 in Bermuda, including UK Members of Parliament, amidst a very different environmental and political climate than when she had started.
Since then, the film has attracted international attention including a glowing endorsement from noted natural history documentarian Sir David Attenborough who has called it: “One of the most important films of our time.”
But for Jo, her work has just begun.