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Painting the Bird’s Head Endemics-Art by Nate Wilson

Administrator’s note: We are so proud and honored to introduce you to Nate Wilson, a painter of underwater art.  Nate contacted us last year with the proposition of painting every endemic fish of the Bird’s Head Seascape (57 and counting).  He will donate proceeds from the sales of related “BHS-Endemic Bling” to its conservation initiatives.  I think you will all agree that Nate’s work is extraordinary.  Mind-bogglingly so!  

Unfortunately we can’t show all of his paintings in this post, but we will show you a few of our favorites.  Being photographers we are amazed; in many ways his painting captures the “spirit” of the animal better than an image.  We’ll let Nate tell you about himself and his work.

At work!

“My name is Nate Wilson and I have not been to the Birdshead, yet!

I am an artist, teacher, recreational diver and underwater photographer. My parents were art teachers, and I grew up making art. I started painting fish because I have been interested in them since I was a kid, and as I’ve aged, my appreciation for marine life has intensified. If you really take the time to observe small fish or invertebrates, you’ll soon see that most fish have dozens or more bits of color, patterns, or areas of iridescence that make up their appearance. If you watch them in action you see that they have personality, little routines, and relationships with other animals in their area. This living art is amazing.”

“Last summer my wife and I were supposed to travel to Vanuatu, the Solomons and Fiji. Like almost everyone else who had holiday plans, we had to put things on hold because of the pandemic. My teaching went virtual and I was spending a lot of time on the computer, so I began to look for other venues for my skills and energy.  After volunteering within our community, I began to think about painting all the known endemic species of reef fish in the Bird’s Head Seascape. I want my art to make people realize that each fish is a living jewel, a piece of our world’s biological heritage, something that we should appreciate for its inherent value and as a piece of a bigger ecosystem. Working on paintings of the BHS endemics gave me the chance to understand what made the region so special and to showcase the diversity found there.”

“I approached the folks at about using my art to help in some way; it seemed like a logical avenue. The BHS is epicenter of the Coral Triangle and the heart of tropical marine diversity.  It is incredibly important to protect such a place, and while it also seems like there is so much good work going on there, I wanted to help out and become a part of the effort.  Before I started painting endemic fish from the BHS, I only knew about the Bird’s Head from other sources.  But now I’ve spent many hours learning about this remarkable place by painting some of the unique fish species that inhabit it.”

“I might not make it to the BHS this year, but I want it to still be there when I get the chance.  I hope my painting inspires others to protect this unique area well past whenever I can realize my dream of diving throughout the BHS and making art about it.”

Working together with Dr. Mark Erdmann, Vice President of Conservation International’s Asia-Pacific Marine Programs, and Marit Miners, co-owner of Misool Eco Resort and co-director of The Misool Foundation, Nate’s paintings will soon be available as BHS-Endemic Bling; coming soon (look for updates on what, when and where).

To see more of Nate’s work and to purchase paintings please visit Nate’s website,  Also visit his Facebook page,

Here are a few more just because they are so beautiful.  

We will soon publish a Gallery, which will include all of  Nate’s BHS-Endemics.

Nate with his most recent painting a “life-size” Napoleon Wrasse.  BTW: Although the BHS has a healthy population of Napoleons they are not a BHS endemic




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