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Extraordinary Underwater Images Scoop UPY 2019 Awards



A thrilling photograph showing the exact moment a pack of grey reef sharks catch and devour a parrotfish sees British photographer Richard Barnden named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019. Barnden’s photograph triumphed over 5000 underwater pictures entered by underwater photographers from 65 countries around the world.

© Richard Barnden/UPY2019

“The Gauntlet” was taken underwater, late at night on the reefs of French Polynesia in the centre of the Pacific Ocean. Barnden explains “As I descended, hundreds of sharks covered the bottom. This unlucky parrotfish flinched, and that tiny movement alerted the swarm of sharks. The mayhem hurtled straight towards me and I instinctively pressed the shutter, moments later all that remained was a rain of parrotfish scales in the darkness, and this photo on my camera.” Barnden, 40, is originally from Brighton, England, but now lives on the small island of Palau, in Micronesia.

Chair of the judges, Dr Alexander Mustard MBE, commented “Photography is about preserving moments and what an unforgettable instant this is. Using a wide angle lens, the photographer takes us into the full drama of the hunt, as a melee of grey reef sharks rise like a breaking wave to tear apart their prey, truly revealing the ocean’s wilder side.”

Spanish photographer, Eduardo Acevedo from Tenerife, was named Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2019 for his photo showing a loggerhead turtle entangled in a discarded plastic fishing net. Acevedo says “the turtles come to the Canary Islands by crossing the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean and have to avoid many man made dangers, like plastics, ropes and fishing nets. This individual was one of the lucky ones because we were able to free it and recover the net.

© Eduardo Acevedo/UPY2019

Judge Mustard adding “plastic pollution and ghost fishing are ever increasing serious issues threatening the ocean, this sad image highlights both issues”.

The Underwater Photographer of the Year competition also aims to promote new photographic talent. Korean Taeyup Kim was named as Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 for a technically challenging image half in and half out of the water. “Paradise” shows healthy corals growing in front of a resort in French Polynesia. Kim explains “this photo was physically tough to shoot, holding the heavy camera exactly in this position while floating in the water”.

© Taeyup Kim/UPY2019

Competition judge Martin Edge commented “A perfect under and over split. One of the best examples I have seen of this type of image for some time.

The title of Most Promising British Underwater Photographer, 2019 goes to Malcolm Nimmo from Plymouth in England. His image “Marine Compass” was taken while snorkelling in the Scilly Islands, in the UK. Nimmo explains “maintaining both the surface features and subject illumination requires high strobe power settings and hence careful strobe positioning. Hopefully this image highlights the beautiful marine environments we are lucky to have around the UK.”

© Malcolm Nimmo /UPY2019

Competition judge, Peter Rowlands commented “Composition, colour vibrancy and contrast combined with an unusual angle kept it rising in the rankings with each viewing.”

UPY 2019 Full Results

Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 Richard Barnden (United Kingdom)

British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 Richard Barnden (United Kingdom)

Up and Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 Taeyup Kim (Korea)

 Most Promising British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 Malcolm Nimmo (United Kingdom)

Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2019 Eduardo Acevedo (Spain)

 1) Wide Angle

Winner: François Baelen (Reunion)

© François Baelen/UPY2019

2) Macro

Winner: Fabio Iardino (Italy)

© Fabio Lardino/UPY2019

3) Wrecks

Winner: René B. Andersen (Denmark)

© René B. Andersen/UPY2019

4) Behaviour

Winner: Richard Barnden (United Kingdom)

5) Portrait

Winner: Nicholas Samaras (Greece)

© Nicholas Samaras/UPY2019

6) Black & White

Winner: Henley Spiers (Philippines)

© Henley Spiers/UPY2019

7) Compact

Winner: Enrico Somogyi (Germany)

© Enrico Somogyi/UPY2019

8) Up & Coming

Winner: Taeyup Kim (Korea, Republic of)

9) British Waters Wide Angle

Winner: Robert Bailey (United Kingdom)

© Robert Bailey/UPY2019

10) British Waters Macro

Winner: Arthur Kingdon (United Kingdom)

© Arthur Kingdon/UPY2019

11) British Waters Living Together

Winner: Victoria Walker (United Kingdom)

© Victoria Walker/UPY2019

12) British Waters Compact

Winner: Martin Edser (United Kingdom)

© Martin Edser/UPY2019

Marine Conservation

Winner: Eduardo Acevedo (Spain)

To see all the incredible images that were placed in this years awards, or to learn more about the competition please visit the UPY website by clicking here.

To download the free 175 page downloadable Yearbook please click here.

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


Frontline workers honoured with free dive trip to Yap



The remote island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia is among the few places in the world that remains free of Covid-19 thanks to its ocean border and a strict travel ban that has kept its residents safe.

Nonetheless, Yap has been affected, too. As one of the world’s premier, award-winning destinations for divers, this paradisiacal location in the western Pacific Ocean has had no outside visitors to its rich shores and reef for nearly a year. But while there may be no virus, the island hasn’t been cut off from the economic impact experienced around the globe.

Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers by A. Tareg

That didn’t stop Bill Acker, CEO and founder of the Manta Ray Bay Resort and Yap Divers, from doing something, though.

Last March, soon after the island went into lockdown, Bill began to realize the effect of the virus on daily life beyond the island. “Yes, we are closed, have no divers, had to send our employees home and prepare for difficult times,” he said. “But we’re lucky in that we have, for the most part, avoided the human suffering and death this pandemic has caused.”

Thinking about the problems faced by his family business, they paled when he compared them to those endured by the healthcare workers who have been fighting selflessly around the clock for months on end for the well-being and lives of others.

“One evening, while checking the news online, I saw pictures of frontline workers who were tending to desperately ill and dying people when families and friends could not be with their loved ones. It was heartbreaking,” he added.

The next day, a meeting was held with the resort’s staff and Bill invited suggestions for ways they could do something to honor healthcare workers. The result was the idea to award twenty divers who are working on the frontline to save other’s lives during this pandemic while risking their own, with a free week at the resort.

Manta ray, Manta birostris, gliding over a cleaning station in M’il Channel, Yap, Micronesia by David Fleetham

Divers around the world who had been guests at Manta Ray Bay in the past were invited to submit the names of candidates for the award by December 31, 2020. “We received nominations for 126 individuals from as far away as Germany, the U.S., Australia and Canada,” he said. “It was not easy choosing the winners but our committee of staff members took on the job and selected the 20 finalists.”

“While trying to choose the people to reward for their hard work during this Covid-19 crisis,” Bill added, “by reading the nominations we saw that every one of the nominees was doing things above and beyond the call of duty. Sadly, we don’t have the finances to offer over 100 free weeks in Yap, but we do want to recognize the contributions all of them are making to our world. So, we are offering the rest of the nominees a free week of diving in Yap which includes room, hotel tax, airport transfers, breakfast, diving and Wi-Fi.  The only requirement is that they travel with at least three other people and stay in two rooms or more.”

“We do not yet know when Yap will open its borders,” said Bill, “but when it does, we will welcome these important guests to Yap to relax and dive with the manta rays and the other beautiful denizens of the ocean surrounding our island home. They are the true heroes of this devastating, historic time and we look forward to honoring them with a well-deserved dive vacation.”

Watch out for our exclusive trip report from a healthcare worker from the UK who is one of the 20 to have been awarded this amazing dive trip!

For more information on Manta Ray Bay and Yap Divers visit their website by clicking here.

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Dream Dive Locker Build Out. Part I: Demolition (Watch Video)



It’s finally here! Time to start building the greatest dive locker the world has ever seen! Part I: Demolition! #dreamdivelocker

This is the first of a series of videos showing the evolution of building out my dream dive locker. My dream dive locker needs to be dive gear drying and storage, dry storage, workshop, office, editing suite, You Tube studio and classroom. That’s a lot of functions for a small space!

The first step is planning out the space and demolishing the laminate flooring. Then I taped up the walls to get a feel for the space. We have a lot of work to do!

But finally we will have a purpose built space to house all of our dive equipment! Subscribe to our channel to follow our progress! 

Thanks for watching, Team!


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