Part of National Geographic Live’s touring speaker series, “Coral Kingdom and Empires of Ice” with David Doubilet and Jennifer Hayes, comes to the Moss Arts Center on Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

The performance will be held in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall.

Doubilet has a long and intimate vision into the sea. He began snorkeling at age 8 at summer camp, and by age 12 he was making pictures underwater using a Brownie Hawkeye camera stuffed into a rubber bag. He has long since mastered the techniques of working with water and light to become one of the world’s most celebrated underwater photographers and a contributing photographer for National Geographic magazine, where he has published nearly 70 stories since his first assignment in 1971.

Doubilet has spent five decades under the surface in the far corners of the world from interior Africa, remote tropical coral reefs, rich temperate seas, and recent projects in the northern and southern ice. His personal challenge is to create a visual voice for the world’s oceans and to connect people to the incredible beauty and silent devastation happening within the invisible world below.

Hayes is an aquatic biologist and photojournalist specializing in natural history and marine environments. She has authored and edited numerous articles on marine environments, and her images have appeared in books, advertising campaigns, and such publications as National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Sport Diver, DIVE Magazine, Diver, People, Alert Diver, and Ocean Geographic. She is co-author/photographer for “Face to Face with Sharks” by National Geographic Books and an honorary editor for Ocean Geographic magazine. 

Hayes and Doubilet collaborate as a photographic team above and below water on project development, story production, feature articles, and books. National Geographic assignments have taken them around the globe, with recent projects in the remote corners of the Great Barrier Reef, under oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, swimming among congregations of 500-pound goliath grouper, and submerged in the ice with harp seal mothers and pups.

National Geographic Live is the live events division of National Geographic. With a broad roster of talent, including renowned photographers, scientists, authors, filmmakers, and adventurers, National Geographic Live’s critically acclaimed programs have connected with audiences worldwide for over a century. At these events, speakers share behind-the-scenes stories from the front lines of exploration onstage alongside stunning imagery and gripping footage.

This is the first in a series of three National Geographic Live events the Moss Arts Center will present this season. “View From Above” featuring speaker Terry Virt, former International Space Station commander, will be on Nov. 5, while primatologist Mireya Mayor visits the center on March 24, 2020, with “Pink Boots and a Machete.”

This performance of “Coral Kingdom and Empires of Ice” is supported in part by a gift from Jim and Margaret Shuler.

Related events

Prior to the performance, explore an open exhibition in the Moss Arts Center Grand Lobby featuring Virginia Tech research, teaching, and outreach devoted to exploring and realizing sustainability. Presented as part of Blacksburg’s Sustainability Week 2019, participating organizations include Coastal@VT and the Center for Food Systems and Community Transformation.

During their visit, Doubilet and Hayes will attend a discussion and social with Virginia Tech science students. In addition, Al Evangelista and Daniel Bird Tobin, instructors and post-Master of Fine Arts Fellows in the School of Performing Arts, will join Tom Crawford, professor and chair of the Department of Geography, for “Communicating Science: Monologues and Discussion,” a hybrid performance and discussion of original theatre works focused on sea level rise, climate change, and related issues.


Tickets are $25 for general admission and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

While Virginia Tech students can always attend any Moss Arts Center performance for only $10, the center also offers free last-minute rush tickets for students who sign up for text notifications. To receive these notifications, text “arts” to 31996. Availability of rush tickets varies by performance and tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last in the box office. Virginia Tech ID will be required for admission.


Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Kacy McAllister at 540-231-5300 or email during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to an event.

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