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Plymouth Sound National Marine Park awarded £9.5 million

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Plymouth Sound, the home of UK’s first National Marine Park has been awarded £9.5 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to make its vision of a park in the sea a reality.

People across the city and surrounding the Sound are celebrating after learning the bid for the Heritage Horizon Awards has been successful.

Leader of Plymouth City Council Nick Kelly said: “This is truly a game changer for Plymouth. For too long Plymouth hasn’t fully embraced the sea and its waterfront – this funding means we can now put the Sound right at the heart of our plans for Plymouth.

“We are in a unique position, within a unique landscape – fantastic wildlife, an historic waterfront, rich maritime heritage and cutting edge marine research, but we need to look after this special place. We need people from all walks of life to get in it, on it, talk about it and as a city cherish the Sound for future generations.”

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the Plymouth Sound National Marine Park will reconnect an entire city to the sea, the marine environment and its history. The bid is based on three key elements:

  • physical infrastructure: creating gateways to the park with improved facilities at Tinside cove and pool, Mount Batten Peninsula and watersports centre, the National Marine Aquarium, Mount Edgcumbe as well as enhancing community access points though out the park
  • social infrastructure – a city wide community engagement programme designed to get all Plymothians out in, on, under and next to the water and develop new ‘green’ marine employment opportunities
  • digital park – using the latest tech to create new ways of engaging people with the park and learning about its hidden treasures without getting wet.

Councillor Kelly said: “The scale of what we want to achieve is vast. We have a two year development period where we will be talking to everyone and anyone, shaping and testing ideas before the five year delivery plan gets into full swing.

“This administration is committed to listening to what people want and this project has enormous potential to unite and inspire people, enabling everyone to feel healthier and happier as well as tackle some of the big issues that are threatening the Sound and our environment. It’s exciting stuff.”

The bid has cross party support. Leader of the Opposition Councillor Tudor Evans added: “This is just epic news. The Park in the Sea really is a people’s park and over the next two years residents and businesses across the city and in surrounding communities – not just those living close to the waterfront – will be encouraged to explore what the Sound has to offer and then shape the project.”

The project outlines five ‘gateways’ to the park – each with a particular focus that will inspire more people to explore, connect and enjoy the sea in all sorts of different ways.

  • Tinside – for health and wellbeing activities
  • National Marine Aquarium – a hub for nature and the environment
  • Mountbatten – active recreation
  • Mount Edgcumbe – heritage – learning about the Sound’s epic history including over 600 wrecks that lie beneath the waves
  • Smart Sound – digital harnessing the power of the latest digital technology

The park aims to change how a landscape and its people can work together. The ‘Park in the Sea’ will transform lives, employment, education, volunteering and environment, re-establishing the bond between people and place. It is estimated the grant will support the development of 20 new ‘blue’ enterprises and create 464 jobs.

Professor Richard Thompson OBE FRS, Director of the Marine Institute at the University, said: “For well over a century, the remarkable natural resource of Plymouth Sound has attracted marine scientists from all over the world. What is particularly exciting about this funding is that it will allow us to work together across the city to develop projects that connect the land and sea as a system, and convey that sense of wonder to a wider audience, particularly those who live in the city. There are amazing opportunities through science, health and the arts – literally, an ocean of potential.”

Roger Maslin, Ocean Conservation Trust and National Marine Aquarium CEO said: “We are delighted to hear the news that Plymouth Sound National Marine Park has received National Lottery Heritage Fund support. Our conservation work is centred around people taking positive action, so we look forward to helping as many people as possible experience and connect with the Ocean here in Plymouth.

“As an Ocean Conservation Charity, we are delighted to continue our conservation, education and engagement programmes here in the Southwest and will continue supporting the fantastic team at Plymouth City Council to ensure that both locals and visitors connect with the National Marine Park in new and exciting ways.”

From the lone angler to fishing crews, from swimmers to those who earn a living from the sea, the park is not just about encouraging people to get closer to the ocean but protecting it and piloting projects that could help tackle our greatest challenges such as climate change in a way that actually improves lives.

Ideas on the horizon to encourage people to explore include innovation labs, a marine observation post, a hidden treasures of the sound project as well as developing digital park apps. There’s also plans for National Maritime Park Festival for anyone to try swimming, sailing or paddleboarding as well Give it a Go events.

The project is not just about leisure activities, it will include piloting sustainable fisheries initiatives as well as working closely with schools on STEM activities, careers in ocean-related fields and ocean citizenship. A ranger programme is also on the cards to help look after the Sound and run activities that allow people to learn and connect with the Sound.

For more info, please visit: www.plymouthsoundnationalmarinepark.com

Header image: WAYNE PERRY

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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PADI Teams Up with Wellness Brand Neuro to Drive Ocean Change and Create a Blue State of Mind

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Neuro

Together launching a whale-inspired limited-edition tin to fund ocean conservation

Ocean lovers and wellness enthusiasts can join PADI® (Professional Association of Diving Instructors®)  and Neuro® functional gum and mints in creating positive ocean change.

The two leading lifestyle and purpose-driven brands have united in a shared mission that is born out of the transformational powers of the water and are offering a streamlined way to enhance your wellbeing and that of the ocean. Throughout the year, they will be releasing a collection of two limited edition re-usable Neuro x PADI tins designed to be used with all the bulk Neuro bag products, with 20% of profits donated to PADI AWARE FoundationTMand $100K USD committed to the world’s largest purpose-driven diving organisation’s non-profit charity by the end of 2024.

The first of the co-branded tins that are now available for purchase showcases artwork created by Neuro co-founder Kent Yoshimura, who is also a renowned mural artist and depicts a whale breaching in the ocean.

“The whale is symbolic of how everything is interconnected and small changes can have a huge impact upon our ocean – and all life that calls it home,” explains Yoshimura. “By refilling and using this tin, you’ll cut down on your packaging waste, fuel yourself with clean ingredients to live your best life and do more for all vulnerable marine species.”

At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year and more than 250 million tons of plastic are estimated to pollute our waters by 2025,” says Julie Andersen, PADI’s Senior Director of Brand. “Much of that debris is ingested by all of the ocean’s creatures – including the symbolic megafauna like whales. By creating this campaign, PADI and Neuro have come together to drive change and heal ourselves, our communities, and the ocean – our largest and most important ecosystem on this blue planet, and the very thing responsible for life on earth.”

Uniting Two Purpose-Driven Brands

Founded in 2015 by Yoshimura and his co-founder Ryan Chen on their first dive trip in Catalina, the two college friends and PADI Scuba Divers were looking for a more sustainable way to optimise one’s health and energy – and soon after established Neuro®, a collection of functional gum and mints crafted with a patented formula and clean ingredients to help you do more.

What started as a small start-up conceived on a dive boat, led them to garner international recognition for their appearance on Shark Tank in 2020 – and they have now sold over 90 million pieces of Neuro products.

“Core to our purpose-driven ethos, we want to encourage the world to not only improve their own lives, but the lives of others,” explains Chen. “We understand that being a truly sustainable company is more than just protecting the environment. That is why we prioritise environmental, social, and economic sustainability to ensure Neuro operates in a way that benefits everyone – including the smallest of plankton to the largest of whales that live beneath the surface.”

“Just like Neuro, PADI empowers people to become the best version of themselves when they are in a state of ‘blue mind’, where you become deeply aware of your own personal health’s connection to that of our blue planet’s – realising that your own wellbeing gives you superpowers to make a real difference,” says Andersen. “We are obsessed with creating positive ocean change and transforming lives by making the wonder of the underwater world accessible to all and ensuring that communities and ecosystems live in harmony that mutually support one another. Together, we are magnifying our powers to do more by raising awareness to the issues facing our ocean, while at the same time, providing meaningful ways to take action.”

How the Ocean Healed Neuro Co-Founders

Scuba diving isn’t just a passionate hobby for Neuro co-founders Yoshimura and Chen. It is from this that they experienced the entrepreneurial side-effects of scuba diving, in which the dive trip was a core driver to their business success and personal wellbeing – giving them both their “million-dollar idea” and a renewed sense of purpose and belief that anything is possible.

“It was during this dive trip that we realised the need to have a practical, sustainable, and approachable system that can be shared with fellow divers that provide clean energy during surface intervals,” Yoshimura explains. “When you fall in love with the ocean, you want to spend as much time as possible exploring and protecting it. So, we wanted to create a product that supported this passion and gives you a prolonged state of ‘blue mind’.”

For Chen, earning his PADI Open Water Diver certification also provided him with a pivotal moment in his own healing journey after he had suffered a tragic snowboarding accident that left him partially paralysed. He became certified through the PADI Adaptive Techniques Diving Course and benefited greatly from the physical and mental therapy the sport of scuba diving provides. Soon after, his renewed sense of purpose led him to be named to Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2019.

“There’s no cooler feeling than taking that first breath underwater,” Chen recalls. “All of a sudden you have this superpower, to breathe underwater and explore. Learning to dive re-ignited my passion for life but also my belief that I too could make a difference in protecting and saving the ocean.”

“Learning to scuba dive unlocks hidden superpowers that are not only empowering – but essential to keep our shared blue planet healthy,” Andersen explains. “As a PADI Scuba Diver, you not only develop a new passion, but you also earn the unique ability to protect what you love, engaging in impactful citizen science with your own two hands.  Through a shared mission of instilling hope, connecting with other species, and fueling hands-on conservation, we hope that we can make a better world for all of us.”

“That is why we rebuilt our company mission at PADI to reach every 1 in 10 people on our shared blue planet and inspire them to join us as Ocean Torchbearers to create positive ocean change,” says Andersen. “Our work with Neuro helps us inspire more people to experience, fall in love with, and protect the ocean and all life that calls it home. Together, Neuro and PADI are supporting more people in achieving a state of “blue mind”, in which they realise they too are superheroes that can accelerate and optimise healing: our own, our communities, and our planets.”

Win a Healing Trip of a Lifetime and Become PADI Whale Defenders in Mexico

Note: This competition is only open to residents of the USA

As part of their limited edition re-usable tin launch, PADI and Neuro are offering one lucky winner the ultimate healing trip of a lifetime:  the chance to become a PADI Whale Defender in Baja California, Mexico. The prize includes flights, accommodation, the PADI Whale Defender Course, and a whale-watching tour with Dive Ninja Expeditions for two, as well as a collection of Neuro mint and gum products that includes Energy + Focus, Calm + Clarity and Sleep + Recharge.

“Together, we all must heal ourselves before we can heal the planet,” says Andersen. “Neuro and PADI are united in purpose, focused on our holistic wellbeing by healing from within, connecting with like-minded, purpose-driven communities, and joining a movement bigger than yourself to create positive ocean change. Seeing is believing, and an unforgettable, life-altering encounter with a whale will change your life forever, filling you with a drive to protect their – and our – blue world.”

For more information, to purchase the limited edition re-usable tins and to enter this competition, visit padi.neurogum.com/sweepstakes.

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Diver Discovering Whale Skeletons Beneath Ice Judged World’s Best Underwater Photograph

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UPY

An emotive photograph showing a freediver examining the aftermath of whaling sees
Alex Dawson from Sweden named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024. Dawson’s
photograph ‘Whale Bones’ triumphed over 6500 underwater pictures entered by underwater
photographers from around the world.

“Whale Bones was photographed in the toughest conditions,” explains chair of judging
panel Alex Mustard, “as a breath-hold diver descends below the Greenland ice sheet to bear
witness to the carcasses. The composition invites us to consider our impact on the great
creatures of this planet. Since the rise of humans, wild animals have declined by 85%. Today,
just 4% of mammals are wildlife, the remaining 96% are humans and our livestock. Our way
needs to change to find a balance with nature.”

UPY

Photo: Rafael
Fernandez Caballero

Whales dominated the winning pictures this year with Spanish photographer Rafael
Fernandez Caballero winning two categories with his revealing photos of these ocean giants:
a close up of a grey whale’s eye and an action shot of a Bryde’s whale engulfing an entire bait
ball, both taken in Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico. Fernandez Caballero took ‘Grey
Whale Connection’ while drifting in a small boat, holding his camera over the side in the water
to photograph the curious whale. ‘The End Of A Baitball’ required Fernandez Caballero to dive
down and be in exactly the right place at the moment the whale lunged. “The photo shows
the high speed attack,” he said, “with the whale engulfing hundreds of kilograms of sardines
in one bite — simply unforgettable to see predation on such a scale.”

UPY

Photo: Rafael
Fernandez Caballero

Lisa Stengel from the United States was named Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 for her image of a mahi-mahi catching a sardine, in Mexico. Stengel used both a very fast shutter speed and her hearing to catch the moment. “If you listen there’s an enormous amount of sound in the ocean,” she explained. “The action was too fast to see, so I honed in on the sound of the attacks with my camera to capture this special moment.”

“It is such an exciting time in underwater photography because photographers are capturing such amazing new images, by visiting new locations and using the latest cameras,”
commented judge Alex Mustard. “Until this year I’d hardly ever see a photo of a mahi mahi,
now Lisa has photographed one hunting, action that plays out in the blink of an eye.”
The Underwater Photographer of the Year contest is based in the UK, and Jenny Stock,
was named as British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 for her image “Star
Attraction”, which finds beauty in species of British wildlife that are often overlooked.
Exploring the west coast of Scotland, Stock explained “in the dark green depths my torch
picked out the vivid colours of a living carpet of thousands of brittle stars, each with a
different pattern. I was happily snapping away, when I spotted this purple sea urchin and I
got really excited.”

Photo: Jenny Stock

In the same contest, Portuguese photographer, Nuno Sá, was named ‘Save Our Seas
Foundation’ Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2024, with his photo ‘Saving
Goliath’, taken in Portugal. Sá’s photo shows beachgoers trying to save a stranded sperm
whale. The picture gives us hope that people do care and want to help the oceans, but also
warns us that bigger changes are needed. “The whale had been struck by a ship and its fate
was sealed,” explains Sá. “An estimated 20,000 whales are killed every year, and many more
injured, after being struck by ships-and few people even realise that it happens.”

UPY

Photo: Nuno Sá

More winning images can be found at www.underwaterphotographeroftheyear.com.

About Underwater Photographer of the Year

Underwater Photographer of the Year is an annual competition, based in the UK, that celebrates photography beneath the surface of the ocean, lakes, rivers and even swimming pools, and attracts entries from all around the world. The contest has 13 categories, testing photographers with themes such as Macro, Wide Angle, Behaviour and Wreck photography, as well as four categories for photos taken specifically in British waters. The winners were announced in an award ceremony in Mayfair, London, hosted by The Crown Estate. This year’s UPY judges were experienced underwater photographers Peter Rowlands, Tobias Friedrich and Dr Alexander Mustard MBE.

Header image: Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 winner Alex Dawson

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