The world has lost one of its greatest conservation leaders with the recent sudden death of Doug Tompkins. As pioneering philanthropist, conservationist and ambassador of The Black Fish, Doug was a major figure in the ocean conservation movement; inspiring and supporting many people and initiatives around the world.
Tompkins, 72, was paddling with five other experienced outdoorsmen on Lago General Carrera, a large lake straddling the border between Chile and Argentina in southern Patagonia when his kayak overturned in bad weather.
Wietse van der Werf, who founded The Black Fish in 2010, was lucky to count Doug as a personal friend: It was on an Antarctic expedition in 2009 when we first met. Spending numerous weeks at sea together makes for strong relationships and we hit it off quite instantly with our shared love for nature, history and aviation.
We stayed in touch and when I started The Black Fish a year later Doug really was one of the first with confidence in our ambitions. His support so early on when we really had very little to show for ourselves has definitely made the crucial difference to enable us to get started. His loss is felt greatly across the conservation world especially because he was so receptive and supportive of young initiatives such as ours. His enthusiasm, drive and commitment to the protection of the natural world was really quite incredible.
In the new year The Black Fish will present a fitting way to honour Doug’s work and passions to ensure his legacy can live on to inspire others for years to come.