Over 70 percent of planet Earth is ocean, and over 80 of that vast underwater wilderness remains unexplored. Yet it does not remain untouched by human activity. Overfishing, pollution, plastics, radiation, acidification, and other human impacts threatens the ocean and its overwhelmingly diverse animal population. Silent Kingdom: A World Beneath the Waves, a new hardcover book by award-winning diver, conservationist, and photographer Christian Vizl, is an ode to the beauty of the ocean and the magnificent creatures that inhabit it as well as a call to action to preserve our planet’s fragile underwater world.
Through 224 pages of absolutely stunning, dreamlike black-and-white photography, Vizl’s masterful use of light and shadow is unparalleled, capturing aquatic creatures and marine seascapes with a level of emotion and grace few, if any, have achieved before. Born and raised in Mexico and based in Mexico City today, Vizl’s deep connection to his mother country and her world renowned waters is evident throughout, with many of the book’s most stirring images captured in and around the protected Sea of Cortez.
“The purpose of my images it to be the voice of the ocean and for the ocean,” writes Vizl in the book’s preface. “The world is in desperate need of respect for nature. If we want to have a future on this planet, we need to understand that our lives are interconnected with those of all living animals.”
Sea turtles, sea lions, dolphins, manta rays, whale sharks, sailfish, and numerous other species of sharks, fish, and marine animals are documented with a soft touch and artful eye, giving the viewer a peaceful, soulful view of a world often portrayed in popular culture as dangerous and chaotic. Vizl’s exclusive use of black-and-white photography seems to enhance these emotions, stripping away the beautiful yet distracting colors that usually dominate underwater photography.
“In this volume, Vizl insists that we focus on form, texture, and rhythm so we can see details lost in the sea’s usual riot of color,” writes renowned marine biologist Dr. Sylvia A. Earle in her mid-book essay. The distillation again serves the purpose of “awareness through beauty,” an approach Vizl hopes will inspire viewers to act to help save these beautiful animals—and our planet—from extinction.
“His work has the whisper and grace of poetry,” writes fellow underwater photographer and conservationist David Doubilet. “Vizl’s images transport us to fragile and finite corners of the ocean, where they bear witness to a fast-changing sea. His vision, elegantly documented in the black-and-white medium, is an intersection of passion and conservation. It is timeless, it has impact, and it is art.”
There is no Planet B.