The Last Ocean
Antarctica’s Ross Sea Project – Saving The Most Pristine Ecosystem On Earth
By John Weller
ISBN 978-0-8478-4123-3 $50.00
Author John Weller’s dedication sets the tone for this extra large, over two feet wide when open, traditional, hardbound book, “This book is dedicated to all those who work to protect our natural world.” The dust cover, while technically a color image, is a stark nearly black and white study in contrast and life on the ice and in the water. The rear of the dust jacket makes this an enticing bit of coffee table art.
Opening the book reveals a plethora of stunning images including many taken underwater beneath the Antarctic ice. That’s right, John Weller learned to dive so he could tell the story of life under the ice of the Ross Sea. Beginning in 2005 he set off to become a certified diver and learn what he needed to know to photograph under water and under the ice. Accumulating what he describes as a wallet full of certifications with more than 500 dives in Colorado reservoirs, cold northern Minnesota lakes, and freshwater springs in New Mexico, Weller was still not fully prepared for his first adventure under the ice. Plunging through a hole in the floor of the dive shack and then through a water-filled tunnel in the ice more than six meters long to emerge into the clear water beneath the ice led him to a beautiful alien world.
Weller reports that typically in clear water, divers can see for perhaps 60 meters, but the Ross Sea water is so pure that it affords divers extreme underwater visibility. Weller is one of only a few adventurers to make such a dive, far fewer even than those dozens of intrepid Luminous Landscape Workshop explorers who have ventured to the Antarctic surface over the years. Weller made 50 dives during the season he spent at the McMurdo station.
Images of vast underwater landscapes like this one are sure to amaze the reader, while the text of the book will likely convince the reader of Weller’s argument: that the pristine Ross Sea must be kept that way. In the end it is up to the reader to decide, but Weller’s images and the lengths he went to create them make a compelling case.