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36 hours, 137 UW photographers and 1000s of jellyfish… 2017 Monterey Shootout results!



Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo and the Northern California Underwater Photographic Society (NCUPS) partnered again to host the largest gathering of underwater photographers in the USA. The Monterey Shootout is a three-day weekend of diving, educational seminars, celebration, and a chance to win over $30,000 in prizes even with the simplest of underwater cameras. This year, 137 participants brought their friends and families to share the fun and see what amazing images can be made in a tight 36-hour window of diving. The ocean and weather cooperated by giving us great pockets of visibility, plus the tail end of a jellyfish invasion. New photographers joined the Friday morning seminars with Jim Decker and Matt Ferraro to jumpstart their knowledge on basic photo and video shooting skills. Sunday seminars featured inspiration by professional photographers Mike Bartick and the amazing Erin Quigley on Lightroom techniques. 


While the seminars and beautiful diving are worth the price of admission, the social gathering is the heart of the Monterey Shootout. Hanging out on the beach and boats with like-minded divers gives cold-water enthusiasts a real sense of community and part of a 30-year history of photo gatherings on Monterey Bay. After two days of diving, over 200 people gathered back to the Backscatter mother ship for a night of celebration and drinks stiff enough to heat up the most waterlogged diver. This is the most welcoming and enthusiastic group of underwater photographers the competition had ever seen.


The Monterey Shootout is primarily a social and educational event but the serious level of prizes is what drives photographers to envision images weeks in advance, make extra long dives to pull off a shot and feel the motivation from competition nipping at your heels. Thus, it’s with great thanks that the organisers’ honor the generous support of all of the great sponsors. Thank you sponsors for motivating cold-water image-makers to new personal bests!


This year’s photo judges included Chuck Davis, Todd Winner, and Berkley White. Judging is no easy task, especially when there’s serious creative effort on display from over 500 photographs. While visibility was a bit low, the animals were on full display. The judges were impressed by beautiful images of jellies and local favorite harbor seals and nudibranchs. Selecting the Best-of-Show image was the most difficult decision. It was narrowed down to Roeland Papen’s beautiful anemone image and a perfect jellyfish image from Clinton Bauder. Ultimately Bauder’s jellyfish image was determined to have best captured the amazing experience of diving Monterey this weekend and received the honor of Best of Show award.

In the video judging room, Carl Miller, Matt Ferraro, and Jim Decker had an even greater challenge. As with past years, the top awards teetered on a balance of story telling and traditional image quality, but the quality of videos were at an all time high. This year, honorable mention awards were given to videos that would have placed first in previous contests. Ultimately, the solid and clean macro scenes from Kate Vylet won well-deserved top honors as the best of 2017. Patrick Webster’s comedic story placed second and Joe Platko’s time lapse placed third. However, the creativity of the honorable mentions is inspiring and the comedic story telling of the runners up deserve your attention.

If you want to be inspired, watch all of the Monterey Shootout entries to learn how you can make a video that captures your audience in just 36 hours.

Congratulations and hats off to all who participated in the 2017 Monterey Shootout.

You can see the winning images and videos at:


Breaking News: Captain charged in Conception boat fire tragedy



According to reports in the international press today, it has been announced that the Captain of the dive boat Conception, which was completely destroyed by fire last year, resulting in the tragic loss of 34 passengers and crew, has been charged with 34 counts of seaman’s manslaughter. 

The Captain Jerry Nehl Boylan was among five crew members to escape the blaze on board Conception, a dive boat operated by Truth Aquatics, which took place in the early hours of 2 September 2019 whilst the boat was moored offshore, close to Santa Cruz Island off the coast of California.

The BBC reports that Mr Boylan has not publicly commented on the charges, and is expected to surrender to the authorities at a later date. According to the BBC, each charge of seaman’s manslaughter carries up to 10 years in federal prison.

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Crossover to NAUI for FREE!



As a boost to help the diving industry, NAUI are still offering a FREE Instructor cross-over course together with five free certifications to all Instructors. This can include Open Water, Advance, Rescue, Nitrox and various other specialities and can be mixed and matched so all five do not necessarily need to be for the same certification.

NAUI have also frozen the membership fees for 2021 for instructors crossing over or restarting.

NAUI’s Southern UK Rep Simon Lodge says: “Throughout this year, the diving industry has severely suffered so as a result, to help kickstart the diving industry NAUI will not be charging membership fees 2020/2021 to any new instructors.” 

Founded in 1960, NAUI Worldwide is one of the scuba industry’s largest not-for-profit agencies whose purpose is to enable people to enjoy underwater activities as safely as possible by providing the highest quality practical education, and to actively promote the preservation and protection of the world’s underwater environments. As a pioneer in diving education, NAUI has developed many of the programs and concepts accepted throughout the diving industry. NAUI: A Higher Standard!

For more details please contact Simon Lodge (Southern UK Rep) on or Craig Warner (Northern UK Rep) on

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Sharks Bay Umbi Diving Village is a Bedouin-owned resort with stunning views and a lovely private beach. It is ideal for divers as everything is onsite including the resort's jetty, dive centre and house reef. The warm hospitality makes for a diving holiday like no other. There is an excellent seafood restaurent and beach bar onsite, and with the enormous diversity of the Sharm El Sheikh dive sites and the surrounding areas of the South Sinai, there really is something for every level of diver to enjoy.

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