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Guy Harvey fishing to release.

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A conversation with Guy Harvey

A life dedicated to caring for the oceans

Seeking inspiration from different habitats in different oceans, I continue my relentless pursuit to unravel the mysteries of the sea.

A highly successful self-taught artist and a popular celebrity with over 1 million social media followers, Dr. Guy Harvey, is a marine biologist, diver, photographer, conservationist, explorer, and angler, a humanitarian committed to education for the understanding of oceans. To that end, he founded the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) in 2008. The foundation funds scholarships to support full-time undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in Florida higher education institutions conducting research on the biology, ecology, habitat, or management of fish in Florida's marine environment. The GHFO began a K-12 program with a marine and environmental science course designed for those grade levels.

An expert on sharks, Dr. Harvey, partnered with Seaworld in 2016 to increase the understanding of sharks in the wild. In 1999 he established the Guy Harvey Research Institute (GHRI) in partnership with Nova University's College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography with the purpose of understanding and saving the world's fish resources and biodiversity from drastic, ongoing declines. It is one of a few private organizations focused entirely on expanding scientific knowledge to conserve fish populations and maintain its biodiversity.

We interviewed Dr. Harvey shortly after the Sport Fishing Championship (SFC) announced the (GHOF) as its sustainability partner, providing invaluable expertise on education and conservation to the SFC. The foundation will manage educational programs within fan fest, promoting ocean and fish conservation and coordinating interactive children's camps.

  1. When did you begin to paint, and what led you to it? 

I am a self-taught artist and refined my ability while away at boarding school in England. My mother was a naturalist and an artist in her own right, she encouraged my art from the early days. My interest in marine life traces back to my family fishing for marlin in Jamaica, the first one I caught was in 1973. Reading Ernest Hemmingway's novel, "The Old Man and the Sea," was a defining moment early in my career. Motivated by the adventures of Santiago struggling against a marlin, I created 44 pen-and-ink images depicting scenes from the book. 

2. What medium do you use to paint?

           The need to authentically depict what I was studying is paramount to my work. A from photography, initially I made pen and ink drawings. Later, I expanded to watercolors, oil paint, and the faster drying acrylics on canvas. Paper has size s limitations; canvas or board let me paint some life-sized fish: large, majestic, and graceful, they demand a large canvas.

3. Who are the artists that have influenced you the most?

I had a creative tie with Hemingway from an early age. Wildlife sculptor Kent Ullberg NA was and still is my mentor.

4.     What do you listen to when you are painting? 

I listen to a great variety of music, podcasts, and Ted talks and watch many different sports.

5.     What has been your most demanding artistic endeavor, and what did you learn from it?

           That would have to be designing the artwork for the Norwegian Escape in 2015. The hull design spans 1,065 feet in length. The most significant piece of art on the ship's bow features a sailfish, and along the hull are many turtles, stingrays, reef fish, frigate birds in flight, and the largest of all fish, the whale shark. 

6.     With so many activities, how  do you manage your time?

           I have to be organized because of all of the activities. However, during COVID, because we couldn't travel, I spent the first three months writing a new book, Guy Harvey's Underwater World, published in 2021.

7.      How do you relax?

           I spend time with my family, particularly now that Gillian and I are grandparents. I do a lot of fishing and diving at home in the Cayman Islands with family and friends. I like to keep active, I don’t have the personality to just "sit on the beach". I love what I do.

8.     Are you optimistic about the oceans' future?

Yes, I am optimistic about the future of our oceans. Our research, education, and conservation efforts are making a difference. The need for more research is paramount. Marine ecosystems are resilient and will recover quickly if left unexploited. fishing grounds.

9.     At what age should we teach children about their responsibility vis a vis our oceans?

We developed and implemented a marine science curriculum for kindergarten through 12th-grade students. It is never too early to teach children responsibility; the oceans are one of our most critical natural resources, they must understand that. We have a responsibility to conserve the marine environment and maintain the biodiversity of this planet. To accomplish it, we must help educators foster the next generation of marine conservationists, and that is the goal of our new educational initiative. 

  1. What makes you smile?

My family, mainly my two beautiful grandchildren, make me smile. The faces of schoolchildren as they watch one of our shark documentaries or when they listen to a presentation about sharks by my daughter, Jessica; when I beat my son Alex at ping pong! Experiencing family and friends catch fish, dive, and explore the wonders of the ocean.

10.  What irks you?

Garbage! People who throw trash on the roadside, sidewalk, in the water, and anywhere really. Indifference to our oceans, their natural resources, and the creatures that inhabit them. The feeling of entitlement by many about marine resources. The lack of interest and unwillingness to change. It irks me that so many politicians worldwide have no idea about the natural history of sharks and rays as their numbers plummet year after year.

11.  Which is your favorite marine animal, and why?

I love them all, but the blue marlin's combination of size, speed, and beauty make it one of my favorite marine animals with which to interact and to paint. 

12.  Where do you feel most at home?

Besides spending time with my family, I feel most at home on or in the water. That's where I grew up, and where I get the inspiration for my artwork.

13.  What is the most gratifying aspect of your work?

        Many aspects of my work are gratifying. The groundbreaking research work on sharks with Professor Mahmood Shivji at the GHRI/NSU. The marine industry is a multi-billion dollar economic engine that impacts local communities here in Florida. Our marine science educational curriculum focuses not only on STEAM; students benefit from eco-tourism and learning about possible marine industry career paths.

14.  What is your most meaningful work?

It is incumbent on us to be good stewards of our natural resources. Everything we do, from our educational initiatives to our groundbreaking research, impacts the long-term survival of our natural resources. Our children and grandchildren depend on it. We must continue to educate and generate awareness.

15.  What new projects are you working on?

We work hard for local corporations to sponsor our marine science education and research projects. We are working on several research projects and launching our exciting educational curriculum. And we recently opened a new gallery and retail location on Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Additionally, we announced at the Miami Boat Show, that the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation will benefit from the 2022 Sport Fishing Championship. This additional funding will facilitate expanding our extensive STEAM curriculum and professional development programs for teachers. In collaboration with the Charles Darwin Research Institute in the Galapagos Islands, GHRI launched a new research effort on scalloped hammerhead sharks and silky sharks: two of the most overfished oceanic shark species.

16.  How can people get involved in your charitable organizations?

           It's our collective responsibility to conserve the marine environment and maintain the biodiversity of this planet. I say repeatedly that it takes cash to care: purchasing Guy Harvey apparel and licensed products helps, supporting the GHOF by purchasing our Florida license plate. I invite your readers to visit our website at GuyHarvey.com.

17.  What must you have with you at all times?

You must always have your wits about you, as these are challenging times.

Before cell phones and computers, I kept a detailed daily journal. I must have that with me, particularly when I travel. It is my multi-prong log: family, travel, fishing, dive, painting, business, and thinking log: my "to do" log. Being a person whose life revolves around images, I use my phone as a photographic log of art, fishing, diving, and outdoor experiences, a library of images to draw from at any time. The iPhone has become some people's third hand, and it's easier to keep people in contact. It is a valuable tool.

  • Underwater exploring.
  • Face to face with a shark.
  • Guy Harvey, GHOF, and palette in hand..
  • Guy Harvey fishing to release.