Alex Pham is a whale guide and filmmaker with experience with whales in Norway, Patagonia, Timor Leste, Baja, Sri Lanka, Dominica, French Polynesia, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Brazil, and more. Wherever whales are migrating to, that's likely where you will find him.
Alex loves marine wildlife and natural history, and has spent most of his life focused on trying to create positive social and environmental change in an uncertain world. Alex is excited to share his love of the world’s cetaceans with others and to help tell environmental stories that are nuanced and impactful. He previously spent a decade working on economic development and impact investing in Africa, Asia, and Europe before returning to his love of the sea.
A CHAT WITH alex
When did you start exploring the ocean and how did your passion develop from there?
I’d always been fascinated in marine life and documentaries, however coming from the Midlands in the UK didn’t get much of a chance to explore the ocean properly until my mid-20’s when I started diving and learning about conservation.
I grew up watching ocean documentaries on television, but did not have many opportunities to explore the ocean until I got my scuba certification 15 years ago. That changed my life and set off a wonderful journey taking me to some of the most interesting diving destinations in the world -- Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, and many more. Along the way I found a particular passion for large pelagics and whale migrations, which has taken me since to French Polynesia, Sri Lanka, Patagonia, Brazil, Australia, the Cook Islands, Norway, Baja, Timor Leste, Dominica, Tonga, and more.
The following 20 years have been spent traveling and absorbing as much as possible, sharing stories of our natural world as both a photojournalist and film-maker. Working for ScubaZoo TV, I hosted the from Below dive show, which brought educational and entertaining marine content to the masses.
What was your best moment in the wild thus far (should be relatable to one of your trips)
Too many to list -- having a baby sperm whale come up and chew on my leg in Dominica. Seeing Orcas teaching their baby how to hunt in Baja. Southern Right Whales mating in Patagonia. Amazonian River Dolphins baring their teeth in Brazil. Humpbacks slamming through a bait ball of herring right next to me in Norway. Truly too many to list!
What do you like about being a group leader?
I am lucky enough to help people go on expeditions that are a dream come true for many, to see animals that were nearly hunted to the point of extinction but that are now recovering and are able to show a kindness and openness to other species that humans are only just starting to recognize. I get to educate, support, cheer on, commiserate with, and see the progress that people make through the course of a week-long expedition and it's a completely rewarding, indescribable feeling.
The most important things you are trying to achieve for your guests?
I love showing people the deeper side of what we are experiencing -- to show why the animals are doing what they do, what their lives are like, how they experience the world, how they fit into the environment around them, and how we fit together in the world. When we go on an expedition we get the amazing opportunity to see wildlife in their habitat, on their terms. Having a deeper understanding of how they see the world and how we can best interact with them in the least impactful way possible allows us to step outside of our own world and fully into theirs -- a truly rare opportunity.