Paula Humberg: Causes of Death

“The most important thing in conservation, whether of Harbour porpoises, Saimaa ringed seals, or other species, is forethought. Conservation measures will typically not be taken until a species or a population is already on the brink of extinction. At this stage, conservation requires a lot of resources, and a large part of the genetic diversity will have been lost.”

Paula Humberg

Causes of Death (2016–) deals with the human-induced threats to two endangered mammals, the Harbour porpoise (the Baltic Sea subpopulation) and the Saimaa ringed seal, through necropsy conducted on these animals.

The Harbour porpoise population in the Baltic Sea has plummeted for a number of reasons. The most significant threat is being caught as by-catch: every year, thousands of porpoises die globally in fishing gear. In addition, it seems that the stress caused by environmental disturbance and toxins in the Baltic Sea shortens the life expectancy of porpoises.

The most common human-induced cause of death of the Saimaa ringed seal is drowning in fishing gear. The other threats are early melting of snow caused by climate change, environmental disturbance, loss of genetic diversity, and environmental toxins. The Saimaa ringed seal population is recovering, but fishing and climate change are constant concerns.

Paula Humberg (born 1983) is a Finnish photographic artist and a biology student.

︎ Paula Humberg


PVF 2017
The Finnish Museum of Photography