TIME-HONOURED BRITISH photographic splash-in competitions yielded some great results this summer, with good turn-outs of divers who enjoyed their photographic challenges in varied locations.
In early July there was the British Photography Underwater Championship, held at Plymouth (News, September). Then, held over the same weekend of 27/28 August, came the turn of well-established events off Lundy Island, at the mouth of the Bristol Channel, and St Abbs, in Berwickshire.
The Lundy Splash-in would have taken place in June, but gales forced its postponement. For its second coming, a healthy westerly greeted the dive-boats bringing competitors from the mainland.
However, it was possible to tuck into protected lee shores on the island’s east side for reasonably quiet diving in waters that were not too murky.
Lundy was Britain’s first statutory Marine Nature Reserve (others are at Skomer and Strangford Lough), its first No Take Zone and its first Marine Conservation Zone,
a sole designation made immediately with the passing of the Marine & Coastal Access Act in late 2009.
Not surprisingly, its waters teem with marine life and, as our selection here shows, competitors interacted with plenty of it.
“The waters around the island are renowned for their diversity and 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of marine protection on Lundy,” said Warden Nicola Saunders. “The stunning images show seals, crawfish, lobsters and corals.”
After a Saturday evening social, many of the divers camped on the island overnight before gathering at St Helena’s Church for Sunday’s display of their photographic efforts and the
voting for winners by both the competitors and visiting members of the public.
Overall winner was Owen Atkinson, for his picture of a marbled seal, which also won the Mega to Macro category. Other category winners were Rob Cuss (MCZ Ambience) and Mark Lavington (Marine Abstract). An assortment of prizes were donated by the sport-diving industry.
For a full display of winning shots from this and previous years, prize sponsors plus more about the reserve, including the recent launch of a dedicated Marine Conservation Zone website, go to www.lundymcz.org.uk.
On the other side of the country, the St Abbs & Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve Splash-in, now in its 24th year, was experiencing similarly tricky conditions.
Fortunately, waters remained acceptably clear for the 25 divers who arrived to compete.
The reserve is a popular destination for divers in the region and beyond, and the Splash-in competitors captured an array of marine wildlife to illustrate just why that is.
As on Lundy, a Saturday-night social was followed by a Sunday gathering of competitors and the public in the St Abbs Village Hall for a slide show of competition images and a vote for winners.
Overall winner was Martin Davies for his photograph of a pollack on the wreck of the Glanmire. This shot also won Marine Life Portrait.
Other category winners were Sheelagh Kay (Reserve Atmospheric) and Colin Samuel (John Goldie Most Humorous Shot).
”We had an excellent level of sponsorship this year, with over £2000-worth of prizes donated by local and national supporters,” said Warden Georgia Conolly.
For next year’s 25th anniversary event there will, she added, be a “special celebration – so get the date [25 August] in your diaries”.
To see all of this and previous years’ winning St Abbs Splash-in photos and to learn more about the reserve, go to www.marine-reserve.co.uk.
A feature on diving sites at St Abbs by Simon Morley will appear in DIVER next month.