SPRK Like You've Never Seen Before
09 Jun 2016
Stunning photos by photographer Keith Monroe capture SPRK in a different light.
Now and again we continue to be inspired by what people create with our robots, and this instance is no different. In fact, we stumbled on some amazingness that is simply too good not to share. Did we ever expect to see amazing underwater photography of our Sphero SPRK Edition robot swimming with jellyfish? No. Are we totally awestruck by these images? That’s a big yes.
Sphero fan and photographer Keith Monroe took a little dive off the coast of Palau, an island in the western Pacific near Indonesia and the Philippines. He happened to take SPRK with him. The result, as you can see, is mesmerizing, and definitely piqued our curiosity. Keith often photographs wildlife and underwater scenes, and is an active conservationist. While the beauty of these images speak for themselves, we caught up with Keith to get a little more depth (pun intended) on this "SPRK in the Pacific" project.
A Chat With Keith Monroe
Q. Tell us about yourself. Who are you? What do you do?
A. I am an underwater and wildlife photographer. I was trained as a US Navy Photographer and have always loved the ocean and its inhabitants. I grew up in Lake Charles, LA and have enjoyed diving in the Gulf of Mexico for many years. I have been the grand prize winner of the Nature’s Best Photography Photo Contest. My work has been published in many publications, but most recently, my images have been on the cover of Nature’s Best Photography Magazine and Alert Diver.
Q. Why did you take on this photo project?
A. I try to shoot unique, one-of-a-kind images. At Jellyfish Lake, I was intrigued by the spherical likeness of the 21st century, high-tech Sphero and the age-old, isolated jellyfish.
Q. Why did you use a SPRK robot?
A. I thought the similarities in size, shape, and appearance was an ironic contrast: the clear, plastic, manmade Sphero and the translucent, living, thriving jellyfish.
Q. What made you choose Palau?
A. I love diving in Palau. The people of Palau are actively engaged in marine conservation and I want to support their efforts. Plus, the diving is amazing. There is an incredible variety of fish and invertebrates, unending subjects for a photographer.
Q. How did you NOT get stung by jellyfish?
A. Jellyfish Lake is a marine lake. It is saltwater and is connected to the ocean by channels in the limestone. But, conditions in the lake are unchanging. There are about 13 million golden jellyfish as well as more moon jellyfish there. Over thousands of years, their sting has weakened to the point that it is not detectable to most humans.
Q. These photos are incredibly unique. How were you able to capture these underwater images?
A. The millions of jellyfish were already in place. The challenge was to push Sphero deep enough into the buoyant salt water to capture the image among the jellyfish.
Q. What kind of equipment did you use?
A. Canon DLSR 5D MarkIII with SeaCam underwater housing system.
Q. You’re very passionate about conservation. How did you first get involved?
A. I realized many years ago that a key conservation tool is basic stewardship of our marine and terrestrial environments. Some of the problems we experience today may be beyond our immediate control, but we can make a huge impact if each one of us do the “small things” such as recycling, and conserving water and electricity.
Q. What are you doing now for environmental preservation?
A. I’m inspired to continue projects that are education-focused. Doing what I do gives me a unique chance to educate both the young and the not-so-young about the beauty and fragility of our oceans and coastal wetlands.
Q. What’s your favorite thing about Sphero or SPRK?
A. Sphero was a natural fit for the underwater world and its shape was the perfect complement to the jellyfish habitants.
Be sure to check out more of Keith's work and his ocean conservation efforts at his website below.