World of shadow and light seals life mission

City talk | Terence Chang 7 Nov 2019

Lina Wong had just returned from Machu Picchu in Peru the afternoon we met.

The landscape and wildlife photographer told me the trip was a bargain.

"Return tickets were only HK$5,843.

"Staying with locals cost just HK$199 a night, breakfast included.

"But the two-week trip - from late September to mid-October - felt too short," she said.

"I love being an explorer."

Wong's recent work, Nan Ji Qi E Bei Ji Xiong, or South Pole penguins and North Pole bears, is a captivating book of photography that unveils the world of nature and the lives of penguins and polar bears.

But the star attraction is an adorable baby seal.

The photograph was taken on the Canadian Iles-de-la Madeleine, or Magdalen Islands.

"The baby seal, only 10 days old, had yet to learn to swim.

"Two weeks later, its fur turned from white to grey, and it has to go into the sea to look for food by itself," she explained.

When it comes to natural ecology, Wong has a lot to say.

"Seals live on the ice. When the ice melted fast in 2016, a lot of them died.

"Nearly 70 percent of the baby seals did not make it.

"Polar bears are also the seals' predators.

"Their white body blends in with the ice, and they trap seals for food. However, the polar bears do not really have enough to eat due to climate change, and are unable to make babies," she said.

At the poles, Wong saw global warming's effects on penguins, polar bears and seals, and in the book's preface, she wrote: "Hope the readers would have a bit more breathing space in life, a better chance to survive."

Wong is not always traveling around, as she has to work.

At her first job, after returning from Canada, she learned how to do the work of five people.

The company gave her a freehand though, so she learned to be resourceful and deal with situations as they arise.

"In those seven years, I traveled to every corner of the mainland.

"I got to meet people in the north and see their expansive manners.

"In 2017, I took a course on photography in New York and fell in love with the world of light and shadow.

"Through the camera lens, I have captured the face of nature, images that I want the readers to see," Wong said.

Terence Chang Cheuk-cheung is the retired headmaster of Diocesan Boys School

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