Anne Doubilet speaks out for our oceans in Vail |

Anne Doubilet speaks out for our oceans in Vail

Charlie Owen
Vail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Ira Block

Given how much time Anne Doubilet has spent underwater during her lifetime, it’s surprising she hasn’t sprouted gills and a dorsal fin. The underwater explorer, photographer and writer was even inducted into the Women Diver’s Hall of Fame ” yes, there is such a thing ” for the thousands of hours she’s spent diving in locations across the world like the Red Sea, the Galapagos and the Caribbean. She’s been studying climate change around the world during her 30 years of adventure under the sea. Her 2007 expedition took her from Papua New Guinea, where she studied the poisonous catfish, to the Arctic, where she taught photography to students. Using film, she also documented remote villages and the way the oceans in those areas are changing due to global warming.

“I covered the two ends of the earth from May through August,” Doubilet said during a phone interview this week.

In Papua New Guinea she discovered a colder, rainier climate than usual and Doubilet said the Arctic Passage in 2007 was free of summer ice for the first time since records started being kept in 1978.

“The Arctic, and the Antarctic now also, is ground zero in climate change,” Doubilet said.

Doubilet will speak Thursday night at Donovan Pavilion in Vail as part of the Vail Symposium’s Unlimited Adventure series about those trips as well as present a slideshow of her photos. With climate change being such a timely topic, Carrie Marsh, executive director of the Vail Symposium, brings up a sobering thought.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

“She is photographing coral and ice that may not be there tomorrow. These images our children’s children may never be able to see themselves,” Marsh said.

Freelance photographer Billy Doran is a big fan of Doubilet’s work and said he plans to attend the presentation. Doran believes the work she’s doing on behalf of the world’s oceans is important.

“I’ve seen quite a bit of her work and also when you include her underwater exploration stuff and writings, she’s definitely one of those people who is really focusing a lot of attention on the seas and the oceans both in words and visually,” Doran said.

Just what is it about her photography that makes it so powerful?

“I think (it’s) the combination of capturing both the grandeur of nature on a large scale, like an iceberg in Antarctica, as well as her ability to capture the intimacy of something as tiny and seemingly insignificant as a two-inch ghost shrimp on a piece of corral off the coast of New Guinea ” something that you would miss with the naked eye ” but she gets right in on it,” Doran said.

Growing up along the shores of Massachusetts, Doubilet had an affinity for the ocean. Even as a child, her destiny was clear.

“I knew that when I grew up I wanted to be swimming around in (the ocean) and exploring it,” Doubilet said.

While laying out her slide show for the Vail Symposium, Doubilet said that the theme of climate change became very evident. Having the privilege of documenting certain areas of the world in her travels over the past 30 years and the perspective that comes with it, Doubilet said significant changes in places like the Red Sea, the Arctic and the Caribbean are impossible to ignore.

And if she has one message she wants to get across during her presentation Thursday night, it’s this: “Our oceans are very sick all over the world and we really need to be cognizant of that and take action.”

High Life Writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or

What: Vail Symposium’s Unlimited Adventures series continues with Anne Doubilet, underwater explorer and photographer.

When: Thursday night from 6 to 7:15 p.m.

Where: Donovan Pavilion in Vail.

Cost: Free.

More information: Call 970-476-0954 or visit

Support Local Journalism