By John Virata
Amelia Klonaris is 23 years old and has been an animal lover for as long as she can remember. Klonaris lives in the Bahamas and has a passion for photography, both above and below the ocean. Her work with wild animals such as sharks, rays, fish and turtles has recently been featured in mainstream news outlets. Her personal work with her own pets, however, is equally heartwarming, as her love for them shows in her snapshots.
Klonaris has five dogs, (not including her boyfriend’s dog Simba, who is always around), a cat and a cockatoo. She especially likes to photograph Bullseye, her Bull Terrier, and Simba, who always seems to be near the water.
“My Bullseye, he is my heart,” Klonaris told Petcha.com. “His name is Bullseye because I loved the movie ‘Oliver Twist’ when I was a kid and always wanted the dog and his name had to be Bullseye. I finally got him for my 21st birthday. I got him when I was going through a tough time and I always say he saved me. He gets to go out on the boat and beach a lot with us. He’s not very sociable, he likes people if I’m not around but if I am he’s too protective so he doesn’t do well around people.”
Bullseye enjoys being out and Klonaris’ photographs show what a happy terrier he is. Be it on the beach or indoors, on the boat or in the car, Bullseye is always around Klonaris, mugging for the camera.
“Bull Terriers are my favorite breed, a true breed of their own,” Klonaris told Petcha. “They are super human-like and he makes me laugh everyday because he’s so weird.”
Klonaris was about 14 when she first started shooting photos underwater, starting with an Olympus waterproof point-and-shoot camera. When she graduated to a GoPro action camera, combined with her passion as a PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) certified dive instructor, she was able to get different angles on both her wildlife imagery as well as those of her pets.
“I’ve never pushed for a photo or gone out of my way to ‘try get a cool selfie,’” Klonaris said about her work with wild animals. “I would never chase or harm an animal. Be calm. You’re in their environment now so you have to respect them. I just calmly swim by them. If you’re jumping around, splashing and scaring an animal you won’t get to see them and it also puts stress on the animal.”
While her favorite land animals are easily Bullseye and Simba, her underwater favorites are sea turtles, the big reptiles of the sea.
Sunday chill spot😎🐢 #dive #diveinstructor #bahamas #saltlife #islandlife #ocean #freediving #conservation #explore #paradise #caribbean #bahamasrevisited #adventure #natgeo #summer #bahamianlife #waterlust #travel #liveoutdoors #oceanlover #aquaholic #gopro #gopole #goproparadise #goprophotography #hero4 #turtle #uwp #🇧🇸
“I am obsessed with turtles,” she told Petcha “I get so excited when I see their heads pop out of the water. When I was younger I never EVER saw turtles. They were under threat and it was legal to fish them. In 2009, the Bahamas prohibited the harvesting, possession, purchase and sale of turtles (their parts and eggs). So since then I always see them, which is so amazing. I don’t see how anyone could harm such an incredible animal. On the weekends when the weather is good we usually go on the boat to this small island called Green Cay, right off the shore there are turtles everywhere you can swim with them, and they are totally chill… they will swim right next to you.”
🐢🌴 #dive #diveinstructor #bahamas #saltlife #islandlife #ocean #freediving #conservation #explore #paradise #caribbean #bahamasrevisited #adventure #natgeo #summer #bahamianlife #waterlust #travel #liveoutdoors #oceanlover #aquaholic #gopro #gopole #goproparadise #goprophotography #hero4 #turtle #uwp #🇧🇸
With all the time that she has caring for her five dogs, cat and cockatoo, and her busy job as a dive instructor, Klonaris even found time to sponsor a dog named Toby at the Grand Bahama Humane Society.
“I would have loved to keep him but with so many animals there was no more room… but in about a month he had found a loving home,” Klonaris told Petcha.com.
“I had heard about the Grand Bahama Humane Society’s sponsoring program. I paid $30 a month and the money goes toward food, vet bills, heartworm treatment etc., basically to help the Humane Society continue to do the amazing job that they do! I was able to take Toby home when I wanted and have sleepovers or take him for a walk on the beach which was awesome!”
She noted that while she had a wonderful time sponsoring Toby and interacting with him, there are challenges in paradise.
“We do have a big challenge with stray dogs here,” Klonaris told Petcha. “It is very heartbreaking to see such innocent animals that only want to be loved, ending up abused and neglected. We have awesome shelters here that are a huge help with their spay and neuter programs. They are no kill shelters so they have a lot of fundraisers to help.”
While Klonaris takes her dogs with her almost everywhere, their favorite place is the beach, which, given that they live on an island, is a pretty good favorite place.
“They’ll run around in the water all day, they love it,” Klonaris told Petcha. “I swear when we are driving they can smell it or something. We could be miles away and they start going crazy and cry in the car cause they know its near.”
Klonaris quit college in 2013 during some difficult times and returned home to the Bahamas. But she didn’t stop studying, she just changed focus to diving.
“I started doing the diving courses to just get outside and keep my mind busy because I love the ocean,” Klonaris told Petcha. “During that time I had really realized that this is what I wanted to do. It was my passion.” Diving and photography. Her passion for her work combined with that of her animal subjects makes for some pretty stunning visuals.
This article was originally published on Petcha.com