Q: You were in the Galápagos late last year.
A: We realized that the Galápagos Islands were important for our series on how climate change is affecting natural and cultural heritage sites around the world. As we started looking into research that’s being done there, it became apparent that the majority of the effects were happening underwater. So I realized quite quickly that I would need to take a lot of underwater footage and photography.
Q: So flying a drone underwater was the solution?
A: Well we did consider using tethered unmanned submarine type vehicles mounted with cameras, but because of the tether cord, they’re not allowed near the animals in the Galápagos. So that meant I needed to learn how to scuba dive. It had always seemed scary to me. I had drawn the line at snorkeling, which I love.
I spent my weekends over a couple of months learning how to dive off the coast of California in the Monterey Bay. I was lucky to have an instructor who was also an underwater photographer, because there are a whole host of unique issues around maintaining your equipment, preventing water leaks and dealing with sun flare and exposure.
Additionally, after months of discussions we were also granted the permission to fly drones in the Galápagos. One of the stipulations was that I had to be accompanied by a national park ranger the whole time while we were above land and in the water — just to make