Pure Heroes: Dos Winkel

Dos Winkel, underwater photographer, scientist and ocean conservationist

Dos Winkel (1947) started diving forty years ago on the beautiful island of Bonaire. As a nature photographer, he was very impressed by the colorful underwater world that was still unknown to him. Together with his wife Bertie (1946), he ran his own diving school there for ten years.

The couple has now beautifully portrayed the underwater world in various books that have been published in 54 countries. However, during his diving career, Dos saw the enormous decline of the marine world in many places in the world, such as the increasing decline of larger fish species, such as sharks, tuna and swordfish and the problem of plastic soup.


“In 2005, Dos stopped working as an orthopedic physiotherapist and decided to fully dedicate himself to ocean protection, animal welfare and related ecosystems. He founded the non-profit organization Sea First Foundation , of which Bertie is a co-board member. Sea First focuses on the welfare and education of the sea and gives lectures in the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. His efforts and scientific research also led to the controversial books Wat is er Mis met Vis?! (2008) and De Huilende Zee (2010), as well as the documentary Sea the Truth by the Nicholaas G. Pierson Foundation.

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Diving with turtles| Photo: Dos Winkel
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Huge concerns

“When I founded Sea First I was very concerned about overfishing, pollution, marine acidification and the enormous toxins being released into the ocean. Plastic Soup did not exist at that time. Fortunately, some things have changed, but it remains worrying. Because scientists have been able to catch minuscule amphipods, which live 11 kilometers deep from the seabed, with robot submarines, and it turned out that they were full of plastic substances. It’s everywhere and it never goes away,” says Dos in one interview with Tirso Frances.

“Suppose we stretched a huge fishing net across the African savannah and dragged and killed all the animals we encountered along the way with that net. Then the whole world would revolt. That’s exactly what happens with overfishing. And many people are not aware of that. It’s time we do something about it!” – Dos Winkel

Photos above: curious seal (lb), seahorse (r), clownfish (lo) and annomoon (ro)

Text: Angelique van Os | Photography: Dos Winkel , all rights reserved.


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