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2021 in a Clamshell

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I do not think I need to explain why the last two years have been a rollercoaster, which is why I will not be doing that in this blog. But with what has been going on I thought I would take the time to summarize 2021 as a year after the wobbly year that 2020 was.

At the beginning of 2021 I promised myself that I would do more, I would go diving more (outside of work) and I would work harder on my photography. 2021 has seen some truly incredible adventures and trips and I have ticked a few things off my bucket list to say the least, so here is 2021 rounded up to its greatest highlights.

At the very beginning of 2021 I was invited on the Western Ecology Tour with Andy Clark, during this trip I ticked off some pretty big things. Not only was I able to dive more and practice my photography but I finally went to the Highlands of Scotland, a place that my Grandad and I always said we would go. A place that felt truly magical, not only this but the diving was just as breath-taking and magical as the dramatic landscape above. On the expedition I also met some truly incredible people, who made the trip the best that it could possibly be and I also managed to tick a few photography subjects off my list, from Scorpionfish, and mating Spider Crabs in North Wales, to Catsharks in Pembrokeshire.

In September I was able to tick something else off my list, swimming in the blue with Blue Sharks in the Celtic Deep with of course, The Celtic Deep Team. Swimming with Blues in the UK wasn’t the only tick off my list, but also getting my Fiancé in the water with a Shark in open water was the other. Myself and my Fiancé were thankful to swim with Whale Sharks back in 2018, where they merely gave us a passing glance as their huge form swam past us in the warm Mexican waters, but I really wanted her to experience an animal that’s as curious about us as we are about them, so getting her in the water was incredible. Not only this but she also saw her first whale which made the whole trip worth it.

The final tick off my list was finally getting to the Farne Islands Nature Reserve, the trip was incredible. The stories I had heard coming from the Farne Islands were always those of incredible interactions with Grey Seals, who love to play and frolic in the shallow waters in the Autumn. I was buddied with Yo-Han, and we had incredible interactions with Seals, and I even had my DSMB run into a bit of trouble when a young seal decided to try and make my DSMB theirs truly forever more, which resulted in a very disappointed look from me when it pulled me through my safety stop.

Alongside all of this I have also come to the end of this year being much more confident in my photography and feel like I have a much better understanding and direction in where I want my work to go in the future. This also went hand in hand with the growth in my confidence as a Diver after having some time out of Open Water.

What I can say is that after the uncertainty of the last two years, the latter of the two has been an eye-opening experience, an adventure, and a year where I have felt so much more confident in what I want to do and where to go, it’s definitely been a year with more highs than lows and has made me very excited for what the next year has to offer.

Donovan is a Divemaster who currently works as a Shark Diver at Blue Planet Aquarium based in Ellesmere Port. Donovan’s passion lies with Elasmobranch’s (Sharks & Rays) and this passion has led him to work in South Africa with White Sharks for a short period. He also believes that education through exposure is the best way to re-educate people about Sharks. Follow Donovan at www.instagram.com/donovans_reefs

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Searching for images to help Save Our Seas

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The Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year competition, sponsored by The Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF) and organised by the Underwater Photographer of the Year opens for entries on 1st November and closes on 7th January 2023. The conservation contest is free to enter and offers cash prizes for the first, second and third placed photographs.

The Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year is open to both above-water and underwater photographs. Photographs must highlight a marine conservation story or theme, with both positive and negative stories encouraged. Freshwater themed conservation images are also accepted.

Chair of the judges, underwater photographer and marine ecologist Dr Alex Mustard MBE said: “Powerful photographs are able to change hearts, minds and attitudes. Conservation imagery is especially important from the oceans, which faces many threats from our activities. However, these issues mostly happen unwitnessed, out of sight of land or beneath the surface. This contest gives these valuable images a huge public platform.”

Dr James Lea, CEO of the Save Our Seas Foundation, said: “Images have a profound capacity to affect how people view the world, and at SOSF we are all about encouraging positive change in how people view and interact with the marine environment. As such we are delighted to partner with the Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year award, which is uniquely placed to highlight issues our oceans are facing and inspire change”.

Previous editions of the contest have attracted entries from photographers around the world, keen to draw attention to conservation issues, campaigns and success stories important to them. The award was most recently won by Thein Nguyen Ngoc from Vietnam, with his aerial photograph “Big Appetite”. The photo shows boats straining the waters for anchovies in the Phu Yen province of his country.

“Salted anchovy is the most important raw material in traditional Vietnamese fish sauce. But these little fish are also a keystone of a natural ecosystem. Despite increased fishing, the catches of anchovies have decreased by 20-30% in the past 10 years. When they are overfished, the whales, tunas, sea birds and other marine predators face starvation and critical population declines.” 

The Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year, part of UPY is an annual competition, that traces its roots back to 1965. The Marine Conservation photographer of the Year is free to enter at www.underwaterphotographeroftheyear.com

The Save Our Seas Foundation has been dedicated to protecting life in our oceans, especially sharks and rays, for 19 years. They have funded around 425 projects in over 85 countries, supporting passionate and innovative researchers, conservationists and educators.

Each project strives for deeper understanding and more innovative solutions in marine research, conservation and education.

Header Image: Thein Nguyen Ngoc

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Scubaverse UWP Winners Gallery: Sofia Tenggrono

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Each month we give the winner of the Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition the opportunity to show off a little more of their work in a gallery. The September winner was Sofia Tenggrono.


What equipment do you use?

I work with Olympus TG-6 camera, Nauticam CMC-1, 2 Inon S-2000, minigear snoot dive torch

Where can our readers see more of your work?

https://www.instagram.com/s.tenggrono/


To enter the latest Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition, with a chance to win some great prizes as well as have your own gallery published, head over to the competition page and upload up to 3 images.

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