Katherine Jack

The story of the peoples of Palawan is intricately connected to the life of the seas; its coral-fringed islands were among the first in South East Asia to be settled by humans around 50,000 years ago. The indigenous peoples of Palawan have always lived in keeping with the tides and the moon, the monsoon winds and rains. Nature has defined every aspect of their existence, from the practical to the spiritual.

In recent years, the strains of a modern world have taken their toll. Industrial fishing and pollution are destroying ocean ecosystems. Climate change threatens coral reefs with extinction within our lifetime. Palawan is rapidly developing; with just 35,000 inhabitants at the turn of the Twentieth Century, it is now home to over a million people. But there are movements to protect the archipelago’s extraordinarily rich natural world. Palawan has become home to a growing number of environmental groups working on the conservation and rehabilitation of marine and coastal ecosystems.

Palawan Seas is a long-term photographic project that captures the inter-relationships that have long defined life in Palawan. It is a visual narrative of a place and people on the verge of what may be irreversible change, but also a story of collaborations and connection that seek to ensure a better future for Palawan, its people, and the planet.

Katherine Jack is a British photographer working on the islands of Palawan since 2004. Her work has been published internationally, exhibited in the Philippines and the UK and have appeared in a number of books. She has worked as a photographer on marine conservation projects with the World Wildlife Fund and the Tubbataha Reefs, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Sulu Sea. In 2019, she set up Palawan Seas Watch, an online network to connect all those involved in Palawan marine conservation. She is also currently collaborating with scientists from the Philippines Coral Bleaching Watch to document how climate change is affecting coral reefs in Palawan.