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NUPG Annual Splash-In and Print Competition 2015



Every summer since 2000, when the Northern Underwater Photography Group (NUPG) was founded, they have organised a one day underwater photography competition which takes place anywhere in North Wales. Anglesey has, traditionally, been the focal point for the judging of the event, and for the third year running, the society has synchronised the event to coincide with the Anglesey Scubafest. It features a splash-in competition, where competitors have to take images on the day, in the sea, and only in marine waters around the North Wales coast line. In the past, the competition has been restricted to NUPG members only, but since the linkup with Scubafest, the event is open to all comers and is now one of the best attended splash-ins in the country.


Caroline Robertson-Brown receiving her award presented to her by Richard Corner of Mares.

Everyone has their own idea of where they think they can get the best pictures. Some head out on boats, others shore dive; but this year, everyone had particularly difficult conditions to deal with. Whilst the sun shone overhead, making it a lovey day to be out and about, underneath the surface the visibility was unforgiving for photographers at less than one metre, and many of the dives also had some annoying and vomit-inducing surge.

Each participant can choose to enter images into 5 categories: System Wide Angle; System Macro; Compact Wide Angle; Compact Macro and the Spirit of Scubafest. Once the dives are completed, the divers then all rush to the Scubafest venue, where the images have to be handed in by 7:30pm in time to be considered in the competition. The images that are submitted are not allowed to be cropped and only basic, whole image editing is allowed. The images have to be taken on the day and in order to discourage anyone from using an image taken earlier, a registration sheet is emailed out the evening before, and this has to be the first image on the memory card.


The winning shot of the ‘Spirit of Scubafest’ award, taken by Roz Lunn.

On top of the splash-in competition, there is also a print competition, with four categories to enter: Overseas Wide Angle; Overseas Macro; British Wide Angle and British Macro. Each image has to have been taken within the last 12 months by NUPG members. These are displayed around the outside of the room for all those attending, whether they took part or not, to vote for their favourite images (two from each category). It was great to see so many lovely shots in each category making it a tough choice for every vote. It was generally felt amongst the NUPG members that this year’s entrants were of a particularly high standard.

The event was sponsored by 10 different companies from within the diving and underwater photography industry. This meant that each category winner, from both the splash-in and print competitions, got a trophy to take home and keep. Apeks, Frogfish Photography and Mares were on hand to give out their awards, whilst Mark Evans, Sport Diver editor, was on hand to present the rest. Many of the votes were extremely close, with only one vote in it and for 3 categories, a vote-off was required to decide the winners, and in another two cases, the runner-up. The four splash-in category winners were then voted for to decide the overall winner of the 2015 splash-in. The overall winner won a trophy to keep, but more importantly, they also collected the highly coveted NUPG Splash-In trophy (an underwater photographer made out of nuts and bolts) to keep until next year.

And the winners are:


System Wide Angle (sponsored by Frogfish Photography): Winner – Caroline Robertson-Brown with an image of the blue sky looking up through some seaweed at Mckenzies Pier; Runner-up – Nick Robertson-Brown with a split shot of his dog Paddy swimming through the seaweed, also at McKenzies Pier.

System Macro (sponsored by Apeks): Winner – Caroline Robertson-Brown with a shot of 3 shannies taken at Porth Dafarch; Runner-up – Jim Garland with a portrait shot of a lobster & John Spencer with a cute shot of a blenny.

Compact Camera Wide Angle (sponsored by Nauticam UK): Winner – Alex Tasker with a split shot, with a gull flying overhead; Runner-up – Nick Robertson-Brown with a shot of Star Wars characters fighting on a sandy seabed!

Compact Camera Macro (sponsored by DiveLife): Winner – Alex Tasker with a detailed shot of an anemone; Runner-up – Marc Hubble with a difficult shot of a tiny crab hanging upside down on seaweed.


Winning shot of the Compact Camera Macro award by Alex Tasker.

Spirit of Scubafest (sponsored by Winner – Roz Lunn with an image of a boy playing on an inflatable shark; Runner-up – Roz Lunn with an image of a horse on the beach with a boat full of divers in the background.

Overall Winner (sponsored by Mares): Winner – Caroline Robertson-Brown with the image of the shannies.

Print Competition

Overseas Wide Angle (sponsored by Equator Diving): Winner – Caroline Robertson-Brown with a split shot of a swimming pig from Exuma in The Bahamas; Runner-up – John Spencer with an evocative shot of a school of fish under a pier.

Overseas Macro (sponsored by Divequest): Winner – Paul Ansell with a lovely portrait of a colourful pipefish; Runner-up – Nick Robertson-Brown with a black background portrait of a leafy sea-dragon taken in South Australia and John Spencer with a tiny blenny on coral taken from above.


Winning shot of the Overseas Macro award by Paul Ansell.

British Wide Angle (sponsored by INON UK): Winner – Caroline Robertson-Brown with a shot of a seal taken in the Farne Islands; Runner-up – Paul Kay with a shot of colourful brittle stars.

British Macro (sponsored by Frogsborn): Winner – Paul Kay with a bokeh (blurred) shot of an edible crab; Runner-up – Sue Spencer with a shot of an anemone with brittle stars.

Once again the event was very well attended, with a high standard of images on display (especially given the splash-in conditions). Caroline, who is the NUPG secretary, was overwhelmed at doing so well on the night. “The NUPG splash-in trophy is something I have wanted to win since joining the NUPG 8 years ago. I am extremely proud to have now done so and cannot wait to get my name engraved on the trophy alongside some of our society’s previous great underwater photographers.”

To find out more about the NUPG, visit


Marine Life & Conservation Blogs

Sharks the Ocean’s Greatest Mystery – Part 2



Sharks are an incredibly significant animal in human culture of both the past and present, they are an animal that have been embodied in our culture for millennia. They are represented in formats such as books and clothing, but most notably in our TV and films, which is where a large portion of their negative reputation stems from. A popular TV representation of sharks comes from Discovery Channel’s ‘Shark Week’, and I believe sharks are possibly the only animal on our planet to have an entire week dedicated to them every year. However, despite this, we still know more collectively about the surface of the Moon and Mars, about Galaxies outside of our own, and even about animals that have been extinct for millions of years, than we do about sharks.

Sharks are our Ocean’s top predator, and they represent just how little we know about our blue planet. We have put more money into exploring outer space than we have exploring our seas and whilst many people call space the final frontier, I believe the final frontier is our Oceans. There are people that have lived in space for over a year, yet we aren’t able to stay underwater for more than a few short hours, and with each dive, scientists are discovering something new in the deep sea, giving us a better understanding of our oceans and the top predator that lives within them.

What we do not know

It is easier to talk about what we do not know and the implications of not knowing it, we still don’t know where most shark species mate or give birth, knowing this would accelerate conservation efforts for sharks in a huge way as these areas could then have realistic protections placed on them, allowing us to preserve key stages of the Sharks life cycle.

Marine Biologists have stated that the discovery of a White Shark breeding ground would be the holy grail of Ocean Science, but the only reports of White Sharks mating come from a handful of sightings from Fisherman and Sailors, so these cannot be used as an official record.

We know that Sharks mature late in the same way as us humans, it is estimated that some species are estimated to not be sexually mature until their late 30’s and 40’s, which means that these species are at extreme risk of disappearing due to fishing, as they aren’t able to replenish their numbers fast enough when put under extreme fishing pressure. There is a lot of debate over whether Sharks mature at a certain age or a certain size, for example it was estimated that White Sharks mature at four metres in length, however, in South Africa in 2017 a female White Shark was killed by Orcas, and it was determined that she was either immature or hadn’t mated, as there was the presence of a Hymen.

We are also still unsure about the impacts of human activities on Sharks and how losing Sharks, or their habitat, would affect the habitats and environments on land, environments in which we depend on for our survival.

What we do know

New Shark discoveries are made every year, and scientists are predicting that in the next 15-20 years we will be entering the golden age of ocean and shark discoveries. We already know that sharks are the oceans top predator and we have determined that they affect the very mechanics and functions of the Ocean, if we were to remove them, we would be putting the worlds ecosystems at risk of collapsing. Sharks are an integral part of the balance of the oceans, they help by controlling populations of other species, if we were to lose sharks, species such as turtles would have an increase in population, therefore leading to more seagrass being eaten, which is a prime food source for many animals. Thus, other smaller animals would not be able to feed, and their population would decrease, also the decrease of sea grass would affect us humans on earth as the oceans plant life helps to absorb carbon dioxide and create oxygen, and actually up to 75% of the oxygen we breathe is created from the oceans.

We know that some Shark species have complex social relationships that aid in their survival, although this has only been observed in a handful of species. Lemon Sharks form bonds as pups and hunt together in the shallow mangrove swamps of the Bimini Atoll, and will learn and hunt together and learn vital skills needed in their future survival. Hammerheads are possibly the most famous for social interactions as they form huge schools off places such as the Galapagos Islands and it has been observed that the more dominant females swim in the centre of the school and display for the males.

Some shark species, such as the Zebra Shark, have been known to mimic other animals. Zebra sharks are born with stripes (which fade as they get older) and they have the second longest tail (after the Thresher Shark), this helps them to mimic the highly venomous, White-Banded Sea Snake in order to trick predators into avoiding them, they have even been reported to mimic taking a breath at the surface like a sea snake would do.

It has recently been discovered that Greenland Sharks are now the longest lived Vertebrate on our Planet, they are believed to be able to exceed the age of 500, with females not reaching sexual maturity until they are around 150 years old. This was discovered by examining special proteins in their eyes that do not degrade with age. Determining age and sexual maturity are crucial for understanding and managing shark populations as knowing what age a Shark can breed will allow us to gauge what protections a species needs.

It has recently been discovered that female Whale Sharks are able to store sperm to use over a period of time, this is in order to ensure their chance of reproducing, even without recently mating. This is a huge advantage for conserving the species, as Whale Sharks are classed as an endangered species and so, with the number of whale sharks declining, this ensures the species can continue. Along with this, Whale Sharks have also been found to be pregnant with up to 300 pups, and these pups can be at different stages of development due to the staggered use of stored sperm.

Of all things we know there is one thing that is certain, a Shark, no matter the species, is unique and worth more to our world alive than dead. In the next blog we will explore the threats that Sharks face and how we can help Sharks through the tough times ahead.

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Nauticam NA-α1 Housing for Sony α1 Camera now shipping



The Sony α1 is the company’s flagship full-frame interchangeable lens camera.  Designed around the new 50.1MP Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor and the BIONZ XR processor, the α1 is truly a camera which can do it all.  It’s 759 point Fast Hybrid Autofocus system offers advanced subject tracking and real-time eye autofocus on both humans and animals.  The optimized processing within the α1 allows it to achieve 30fps continuous shooting at full resolution along with 8K 30p and 4K 120p 10-bit video recording.

Nauticam has supported the Sony Alpha full-frame line since the original a7 with professional grade aluminum housings that offer intuitive access to all the controls and functions of the cameras. As the cameras have evolved, so have the Nauticam housings. The NA-α1 underwater housing provides fingertip access to all key camera controls in a rugged and reliable aluminum underwater housing. Ergonomic camera control access is one of the defining strengths of a Nauticam housing, and the NA-α1 continues this tradition.

Integrated DSLR-housing styled handles with ergonomic rubberized grips and stainless steel stiffening brackets add stability and accessory mounting points. The NA-a1 also features dual rear thumb-levers that are easily reached from the handle that access three of the most-used controls on the rear of the camera. The right lever actuates the AF-ON and RECORD buttons while the left lever is mapped to the PLAY button.

Atop the housing on the left side are controls in the form of a MODE dial and FOCUS mode lever. The C1, C2 buttons as well as the EV compensation dial also have direct access from the top of the housing. The C3, which is typically assigned to control switching between the EVF and the LCD screen is easily reachable on the rear of the housing from the left handle.

For more information visit the UK Nauticam website by clicking here 

or to visit the USA Nauticam website click here.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email

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