This is Vegan is so happy to bring you our Robert Marc Lehmann interview.
Saving the world’s oceans has not only been important since seaspiracy.
We spoke to someone who has been campaigning for this for a long time: Robert Marc Lehmann is a marine biologist, research diver, (underwater) cameraman, YouTube creator and Photographer of the Year 2015 at National Geographic magazine. He has not only travelled to over 100 countries, 8 continents and made over 123 expeditions, but also knows the underwater world and its biodiversity like no other during over 2629 dives.
In an interview with This is Vegan, he talks about climate change, marine parks and which species are particularly threatened and what we can do about it.
Robert Marc Lehmann’s latest book: Mission Earth – The world is worth fighting for was published in April 2021 and it shows how serious the situation is, makes us witness to the dramatic events on our planet and explains what needs to be done now and what each and every one of us can do – because: The world is worth fighting for!
Currently, a video from the Instagram story of the influencer "Incsope21" goes through the social networks. In it you can supposedly see a baby dolphin, which he prepares into a fillet. What is your opinion as a marine biologist on the authenticity of the dolphin in the video?
Robert Marc Lehmann: The alleged dolphin fillet is guaranteed not real.
Real dolphin meat is darker, among other things due to the increased proportion of myoglobin. If you google whale or dolphin meat, you will quickly see that you will not find any white meat.
That was probably a fish fillet. No one of 24 remaining Supay dolphins could order, eat and show it publicly. But again, as in science: 0.1% probability is that this dolphin is real, that God exists, and that Trump is a good president.
Inscope21 has now clarified in a video that the baby dolphin was just a dummy made of silicone and that the action was created together with a company that claims to want to save the oceans with sustainable fishing.
Do you personally find it reprehensible to eat dolphin meat?
Robert Marc Lehmann: Personally, I do not find it reprehensible to eat dolphin meat. Many do. We eat cows, others eat dogs, still other people feed on fish. I think eating an animal is okay as long as the animal has not suffered, has not felt stress, has been treated with respect and has not been raised in factory farming. Therefore, I do not find it reprehensible in principle, unless it is a very rare, endangered animal. But in the end, every animal dies against its will, that’s a fact.
What is your opinion on so-called "marine zoos"?
Robert Marc Lehmann: I myself come from the business (catching and selling animals) and like to make the problem behind it clear again and again. This has nothing to do with contemporary animal husbandry or education. This is all one lie. You can take a look at my stories on Instagram – I’ll explain a lot about it. Especially “Sea World” I would rather call “Pool World”. Honestly – which Sea?!
I am completely against zoos and think that they will be a thing of the past in the next 20-30 years. 95% of the animals living in zoos or aquariums are not threatened with extinction, but are only crowd pleasers and there for entertainment purposes.
How did you decide to dedicate yourself to the protection of nature?
Robert Marc Lehmann: That’s because of my childhood. I was born in 1983, so without internet, mobile phone and computer. We kept busy outside and I’ve always loved animals. From bumblebees to earthworms. From whales to sharks. Even though I had never seen the animals. In other words, there is no need for a zoo for this awareness.
My grandparents regularly took me out into nature and taught me respect for it.
Which animals do you think should be given even more attention, otherwise they will probably no longer exist soon?
Robert Marc Lehmann: Animals definitely need more attention, such as the Sumatran rhinoceros, which is completely underrepresented in the media. This is one of the animals that could become extinct next. I hope not, but it can happen very well. There are a few others that I will take care of soon. Unfortunately, I can’t reveal much about that yet, but I’ll take care of it…!
You have already completed 2629 dives. What was your most exciting moment during your expeditions?
Robert Marc Lehmann: There was no most exciting moment. But there were many exciting moments on expeditions. My first orca, my first blue whale, my first blue shark – these are encounters that stay in your mind forever. I always try to repeat this, but unfortunately I don’t always have the opportunity. More and more there are undercover projects for animals in captivity to film and photograph in some bad markets. Today I mainly do what hurts and not what is beautiful. Because it’s more important.
What was your most blatant improvisation moment for the perfect photo?
Robert Marc Lehmann: There is no improvisation with me. In fact, I am always perfectly prepared.
When I think about the last shoot, which I’m not really allowed to talk about – suddenly two animals, of which there are only 80 left worldwide, came to me completely unexpectedly. I had the wrong lens on the camera (a 400mm telephoto lens) and the animals were suddenly one meter in front of me. Then I tore the 24-105mm lens off the camera for my cameraman – gave him my 400 and took really great photos, which you will see soon. That was my improvisation moment in 2019 😉
My tip for ambitious hobby photographers: perseverance and good research and preparation. Jacques-Yves Cousteau once said “If you want to study fish, you have to become a fish yourself.” – That’s the best tip for it.
In your opinion, what is the current state of the oceans?
Robert Marc Lehmann: Bad. Very bad. Plastic, volume, division between countries (the Antarctic Treaty expires), deep-sea resource prospecting, shipping, containers… I could go on indefinitely. It looks like shit.
Add to that acidification, climate change, global warming, sea-level rise – the world’s oceans have more to fight than any other ecosystem. This is really bad, but it’s not too late! This means that if you do something now, you can still change it. We don’t need to start in 10 years. Therefore: Very, very important: Go out! Save the world! Now!
How? There is Google and about 1 million tips for this – from the right paper cotton swab to cosmetics, to the sustainable clothing brand to less fish. From the bee balcony to less meat consumption. This also protects the sea.
What do you think of organizations that want to rid the world's oceans of plastic?
Robert Marc Lehmann: Well, there is, for example, the “Ocean Clean Up”.
I said years ago that this would not work, because it is impossible to collect the plastic from the ocean again (on a large scale). Unfortunately, this is not possible with the current state of the art, because it is much too small, which is distributed over too large rooms and a machine can never distinguish between plastic, plankton, algae or baby turtles.
Nor whether it is valuable for the ecosystem or not. That’s where I see the biggest problem. And that the sea is a stark, brutal, salty, nasty, cold, wavy habitat that destroys all technology. In my opinion, this is also pointless because 99% of ocean plastic has already sunk. These are located in the deep sea or in the water column, i.e. in fish, turtles, whales and so on. This is certainly well known from the studies of recent months. Picking up ocean garbage is cool – it works quite well on Instagram, but it doesn’t do much to nothing.
Nevertheless: BeachCleanUps are important. But from a global point of view, rather ineffective.
Do you have a tip for people who want to do something for the benefit of sea creatures?
Robert Marc Lehmann: Yes! Use less plastic!
We have to be careful that not so much gets into the sea! Use the right cosmetics that do not change the water in our rivers and seas, eat less fish, do not travel on cruise ships, do not fly as much (all this causes CO2, climate change, etc.), buy sustainable products, from sustainable T-shirts to bamboo toothbrushes. Live consciously and wisely! Do your research wisely!
Is there anything you want to get rid of at the end?
Robert Marc Lehmann: Yes, be kind to each other! Mutual respect, also in discourse, is very, very important. You are welcome to say swear words, but never personally offend, even if you have a bad day. Be nice to each other, then there will be no more wars!
All information about Robert Marc Lehmann and his work:
Photos with watermark: Robert Marc Lehmann
Photos (dolphin school): Yannick H.
Orca by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Rhino by jacob brogdon on Unsplash