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Announcing the winner of Scubaverse.com’s Photo of the Year 2020

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This year, Scubaverse.com’s Underwater Photography Editor Nick Robertson-Brown is joined by UK-based Tour Operator Scuba Travel’s resident Underwater Photo Pro Mario Vitalini to choose a winner of our Photo of the Year award. Nick and Mario had a tough job on their hands to pick an overall champion for 2020; the winners of the monthly contest provided 12 fantastic images to select from, including marine life big and small, images using advanced photo techniques, and examples of animal behaviour. But after much deliberation, and in reverse order….

Highly Commended: Curious Booby by MichaelG

Nick: If there was an award for most humorous this would surely win! It is a super and unusual shot that made me smile and was unlucky not to do even better. It is a super shot.

Mario: This was my favourite picture and would have loved to put it in first but unfortunately on my laptop and my monitor it looks very soft, otherwise I have to say it is a very charming character with loads of personality and very well composed. 

3rd Place: Rana Verde Minore by Giannaccini Alessandro

Mario: This is an interesting example of split level, the background is not sharp, is even fairly out of focus but it shows very well the environment. In my opinion if the photographer had the background perfectly in focus it would have detracted interest from the main subject. The eye contact is perfect and the image is perfectly composed. I did not give it first because I think it lacks something on the bottom right. A rock or plant would have balanced the image.

Nick: I picked this image as it is striking, different and has several elements that hold your attention. I particularly like the meniscus and how the surface tension lifts it over the subject.

2nd Place: A Mother’s Love by Cedric Peneau

Nick: This image jumps out of the screen and absorbs you in the moment. Reflections, sunbeams, diagonals and eye-contact. Excellent Shot. 

Mario: Humpback whale and calf. A huge subject but the photographer managed to get a perfect composition including some beautiful sunbeams and a very interesting reflection. Both faces are pin-sharp and the eye contact perfect. Cannot fault the shot.

Winner: Soaring into the Sun by Jay Clue

Mario: A gorgeous shot with beautiful lighting but in my opinion suffers a bit from the main ray, where my eyes get drawn, swimming away already.

Nick: I am in awe of this image and quite a bit jealous too! The sun’s rays, the motion the image invokes and the light on their backs. To have been there must have been amazing, but to capture it for us all to share… priceless.


Congratulations from all of the Scubaverse team to our winner and runners-up. Thank you to everyone that entered in 2020. We hope to see plenty more of your images in 2021!

Prizes include Mares diving equipment and travel vouchers from Scuba Travel!

Scubaverse.com would like to say a big thank you to our Photo of the Year’s sponsors, Mares and Scuba Travel.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Jeff chats to… Underwater Photographer Ellen Cuylaerts (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Ellen Cuylaerts about her diving and underwater photographic career.

As an underwater and wildlife photographer, Fellow of The Explorers Club and having a front seat in exploration being part of the Flag and Honours Committee, Ellen is also a Member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame. She travels the world and tries to make the most of every destination and the path that leads her there. Ellen acts as an ocean citizen and believes as divers we should all be ocean ambassadors and lead by example. She is now based in the UK after many years in Grand Cayman.

Find out more about Ellen and her work at www.ellencuylaerts.com


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Huge thresher shark is the latest of six murals to be painted around the Solent this summer

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The murals celebrate the Solent’s extraordinary marine life – marking National Marine Week.

Secrets of the Solent have commissioned street artist ATM to paint a series of marine-themed artworks at various locations around the Solent this summer. The latest mural to be finished shows a thresher shark on the Langstone Harbour Office. Langstone Harbour is an important area for wildlife as well as a bustling seaside destination for sailing and water sports.

Artist ATM, who is painting all six murals, is well-known for his iconic wildlife street art. This, his second artwork of the series, took three days to paint freehand, from a scaffolding platform. The thresher shark was chosen out of six marine species to be the subject of the artwork by the local community, who were asked to vote via an online form or in person on the Hayling Ferry.

Secrets of the Solent hope the mural will become a landmark in Langstone Harbour and inspire visitors to learn more about this enigmatic oceanic shark. The project, which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, works to celebrate and raise awareness of Solent’s diverse marine environment.

Aiming to highlight the exotic and unusual creatures found close to our coasts, artist ATM says: “I really enjoyed painting the thresher shark because it’s such an amazing looking animal, with a tail as long as its body. I hope when people see the murals, they will become more aware of what lives under the waves and the importance of protecting the vital habitats within the Solent.”

Dr Tim Ferrero, Senior Marine Biologist at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust says: “The thresher shark is a wonderful animal that visits our waters every summer. It comes to an area to the east of the Isle of Wight, and this appears to be where the sharks breed and have their young. Not many people know that we have thresher sharks in our region, and so having our mural here on the side of the Langstone Harbour Office building is a fantastic way of raising awareness of this mysterious ocean wanderer. I really hope that people will come away with the knowledge that the Solent, our harbours and our seas are incredibly important for wildlife.”

Rachel Bryan, Project Manager for Secrets of the Solent at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust comments: “We are really excited to have street artist ATM painting a thresher shark on the side of the Langstone Harbour Office building. We chose this building because of its prominent location right on the entrance to Langstone Harbour so that anyone who’s visiting, whether that’s walkers, cyclists or people coming in and out of the harbour on their jet-skis or sailing boats, will all be able to see our thresher shark. People on the Portsmouth side of the harbour will also be able to see the mural from across the water.”

The thresher shark is a mysterious predator which spends most of its time in oceanic waters. It uses its huge whip-like tail as an incredibly effective tool for hunting its prey. Herding small fish into tight shoals, the shark will lash at them with its tail, stunning several in one hit and making them easier to catch.

Secrets of the Solent hope to work with the species this summer to discover more about its behaviour.

Dr Tim Ferrero explains: “Nobody really knows where thresher sharks go in the ocean. Later this summer we are hoping that we are going to be able to attach a satellite tag to a thresher shark and monitor its progress for an entire year. This will provide really important information that will help us learn so much more about the shark’s annual life cycle.”

The new thresher shark mural is a fantastic start to National Marine Week (24th July – 8th August), which celebrates the unique marine wildlife and habitats we have here in the UK. Over the two weeks, Wildlife Trusts around the country will be running a series of exciting events to celebrate the marine environment. We really hope people will be inspired by our murals and want to learn more about each chosen species.

Events in the Solent include the launch of a new Solent marine film on the 29th July, installation of a new Seabin on the 4th August to reduce marine litter, and citizen science surveys throughout summer.

For more information click here.

Header image: Bret Charman

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