One of the U.S.' most-heralded nature photographers shares a vitally important look at the quality of life in our oceans. And the picture is not always pretty.
No ocean remains untouched by man. And that spells trouble for many of the world's waters. To document these facts, renowned photographer Norbert Wu, under a grant provided by the prestigious Pew Marine Conservation Fellowship, embarked on a three-year effort to document the oceans' most unique and beautiful places, and the substantial threats assaulting them. Using still photography and high-definition video, he visually chronicled three-quarters of the globe, turning an unblinking eye on the undersea world - its beauty and its blemishes - so that people will better understand what is happening in and to our waters. His hope is that by understanding, people will be encouraged to do their part to preserve a world both removed from our sight, and critical to our survival.

Wu is one of the world's most talented and prolific underwater photographers, the author of 15 books on wildlife and photography, a filmmaker (most recently a film on Antarctica's undersea world that aired on PBS), and winner of numerous awards, this year a nod from his peers at the North American Nature Photographers Association who named Wu Outstanding Photographer of the Year. We sat down with the man behind the camera to hear the words behind the pictures.

American Way: What are some of the most pressing problems facing the world's oceans today?
Norbert Wu: Unfortunately, the list can go on and on. Overfishing. Global warming. Pollution and runoff. Reef destruction. The incredible waste in by-catch. Shrimp trawlers scoop up wasted by-catch by the truckload. The National Marine Fisheries Service estimates that U.S. shrimp by-catch is close to 1 billion pounds a year. That by-catch is life, killed for no reason.