When Yuri Hooker was young, he lived on the coast of Huanchaco in northern Peru. He grew up fascinated by the creatures and objects he found by the sea, and by what the fishermen brought in from their catches. At the age of 6 or 7, he watched a documentary by Jacques Cousteau for the first time. He was shocked to learn that it was possible to breathe underwater and gaze at everything down there. From that moment, he knew that one day he would become an underwater explorer. Years later, he studied fisheries biology — marine biology wasn’t offered yet as a degree in Peru — and at the age of 18 he bought his first diving mask. He has continued to explore the sea ever since, becoming an icon as an expert on underwater biodiversity and one of the people calling for the creation of the much-awaited Grau Tropical Marine National Reserve. The director of the biology laboratory at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia (UPCH) in Lima, a producer and director of documentaries on the environment and conservation, and underwater photographer, Hooker has described at least 80 marine species. Mongabay Latam spoke with him about his passion for the sea and about the extraordinary marine biodiversity that still awaits protection in Peru. The interview was translated from Spanish and lightly edited for clarity. Yuri Hooker, ready to dive in and photograph the world underwater. Image courtesy of Yuri Hooker. Mongabay Latam: How did your fascination with the sea begin?…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer