Fall 2009

[Alumni News]

Bill Boyce

Diving Deep for the Right Shot

Bill Boyce designed and built this double deck of Canon Elan 7 bodies with different lenses to work in whatever conditions he might encounter.

William Boyce plunged directly into his dream career on graduating Humboldt State University in 1979. With a degree in Fisheries Biology, he signed on right away with the U.S. Forest Service and found himself right where a lifelong outdoorsman and angler would want to be – waist-deep in wild water.

“Outdoors, wearing a backpack and collecting data to manage a public resource,” he reminisces, “I was going to have a happy life.” And he has, but that was three careers ago. Since then, Boyce has evolved from field biologist to acclaimed outdoor photographer, videographer and host of a national television show.

Top: A school of more than 2,000 spotted dolphins 800 miles west of Costa Rica. Fish and mammals shy away from scuba gear and the noise of an oxygen regulator, so Boyce freedives without a mechanical breathing apparatus or bulky gear. Middle: Striped marlin pass close to the camera off Bahia Magdalena, Baja California, Mexico. Bottom: Yellowfin tuna swimming with a school of dolphins, about 400 miles west of Guatemala.

Growing up, Boyce and his family fished avidly and extensively. The skilled outdoorsman worked and hunted his way through college, living off the land by catching steelhead salmon and red-tailed perch and duck hunting on Humboldt Bay. For side income, the enterprising Boyce built and sold custom fishing rods.

Environmental interest intensified in the 1970s just as Boyce graduated. With the Carter Administration initiating surveys of wilderness assets, Boyce was hired and worked initially in Tahoe National Forest. The habitat analysis work took him from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Northwest.

Boyce then set to sea, opening what would be dramatic new career dimensions. For 12 years, he mingled with sharks, dolphins, tuna and other big-water denizens for the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif. His research culminated in appearances before Congress in 1997 in support of an international fishing treaty, which was ratified.

Always packing a camera, Boyce’s photos earned increasing attention. He’d narrate slide shows, and after positive feedback, set pen to paper and was soon published in leading outdoor magazines. “My name got out internationally,” he says. “In my wildest dreams I never thought anybody in Europe or Australia would know who I am.”

Working watersports trade shows, television producers started noticing Boyce’s photos. They suggested he try shooting video. “I would get some really amazing footage and they would ask me, ‘What were you thinking?’” he says. “I just started talking about what I experienced underwater, and they realized I was very at ease on camera.”

He was hired as a host for the Outdoor Channel and then went on to form his own production company. In 2008, his show “IGFA Angler’s Digest” won two Telly Awards, one of the highest awards given in cable television.
Science and the environment are still very much at the core of Boyce’s interest. He speaks at symposia, serves on boards of environmental organizations and stays in touch with fellow biologists. Says Boyce, “It’s been a wild ride, I’ll tell you what.”

Boyce’s photography may be viewed at boyceimage.com.