Annual photography competition shines a light on life beneath the waves

A contest that saw participants photograph and film underwater creatures and discoveries has announced its winners.

Organized by the UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man, the annual competition was organized by the diving school Discover Diving.

This year was themed ‘The Best of Manx’ and there were photography sections for macro, wrecks, novelty and scenic footage, as well as a challenge for videographers to film ‘My Dive in a Minute’ .

Entry was open to local and visiting divers, and submitted photos and videos were due to be shot in June this year in Manx waters.

Dr Michelle Haywood MHK, of Discover Diving, said: ‘The waters of the Isle of Man are home to an incredible variety of marine life. Relatively large tides ensure that static animals such as anemones receive a steady stream of food that overwhelms them.

“The body shapes are different for sea creatures because the water supports them and many of them don’t have a skeleton or anything like it, it can look like an alien world. Large animals like seals are easy to spot but difficult to photograph if they move quickly.

“Smaller animals such as nudibranchs can be very colorful, but are sometimes only a few millimeters long and very difficult to spot.

‘Guillemots nest around Sugar Loaf and Chasms and dive from the surface to feed. They swim both underwater and fly through the air, veering very quickly in search of food.

She added: “Digital cameras have changed the nature of underwater photography, allowing photographers to experiment with lighting and position to capture the best image.

“Of course, some images are much more difficult than others. Guillemots swimming underwater move very quickly, anemones are more static.

“To photograph divers, you need to monitor their breathing so exhaled bubbles don’t spoil the image. And while capturing these amazing images, divers need to protect themselves and manage the water.

The competition was judged by Portugal’s consular general in Manchester, Duarte Bue Alves, who has a keen interest in marine life, former BBC journalist and government communications officer Mark Edwards, and Jo Overty, head of project at the UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man.

Prizes in each category were donated by Discover Diving, which is based in Port St Mary.

And the big winner took home a handmade Biosphere trophy representing ocean life.

The big winner of the Biosphere trophy was Tim Nicholson, who dived outside the Sugar Loaf caves and filmed diving guillemots.

He also won the macro category with a candy-striped flatworm and received the scenic category award with his diving guillemots.

Mr Nicholson also won the shipwreck category with a selfie on the wreck of the Citrine ship.

Kathryn Fowler won the novelty category as she also photographed a guillemot underwater and the video category with a dive into the Sugarloaf caves alongside feeding guillemots.

Alex Aithison, David Ellingham, Mike Wilson and Manx Wildlife Trust Managing Director Leigh Morris were highly commended.

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