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Tony Wu tops Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022 underwater winners



The Underwater category of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022 has been won by Tony Wu with his image ‘Shooting star’ (pictured above). Tony, who describes himself as ‘a photographer who takes photos (mostly) underwater’, took the winning image of a spawning sea star in Kinko Bay, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan.

As the surrounding water filled with sperm and eggs from spawning sea stars, Tony faced several challenges. Stuck in a small, enclosed bay with only a macro lens for photographing small subjects, he backed up to squeeze the undulating sea star into his field of view, in this galaxy-like scene.

The ‘dancing’ posture of spawning sea stars rising and swaying may help release eggs and sperm, or may help sweep the eggs and sperm into the currents where they fertilise together in the water.

Technical details: Nikon D850 + 105mm f2.8 lens; 1/250 sec at f18; ISO 320; Nauticam housing; Backscatter Mini Flash 1 + Inon S2000 + Z240 strobes; RGBlue compact tripod

Tony Wu was one of 19 category winners in this year’s competition that saw underwater and marine images feature highly throughout the awards.

Amongst the Highly Commended images in the Underwater category was an image by Belgian photographer Ellen Cuylaerts.

Liquid silver by Ellen Cuylaerts, Belgium

Highly Commended, Underwater

Ellen Cuylaerts / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Ellen Cuylaerts is surrounded by schools of glittering silversides swirling around their predators.

The moment Ellen learnt the silversides were back, she grabbed her diving gear. Surrounded by schools of the small fish zipping apart to let the larger Atlantic tarpons through felt like ‘swimming through silver curtains’.

In summer, thousands of silversides arrive from deeper waters to lay their eggs on the sandy shores around Grand Cayman. By day they hide in grottos between coral reefs – but they are not free from danger as predatory tarpons lurk there too.

Location: Devil’s Grotto, George Town, Cayman Islands

Technical details: Nikon D800 + 16mm f2.8 lens; 1/160 sec at f7.1; ISO 500; Nauticam housing; Sea & Sea YS-250 strobes.

Well-known UK photographer Alex Mustard, a frequent winner at the awards, scored a High Commended in the Plants and Fungi category.

Seaweed symmetry by Alex Mustard, UK

Highly Commended, Plants and Fungi

Alex Mustard / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Alex Mustard finds the perfect conditions to showcase the beauty of seaweed.

Confined to the UK coast during the Covid-19 pandemic, Alex developed a love of seaweeds. This image, showing colourful fronds of bootlace seaweed reaching for the light, took planning and precise conditions: a high tide, clear water, calm weather and sunshine.

Bootlace seaweed is hollow, allowing gas to accumulate towards its tip and keep it afloat. Seaweeds forming underwater kelp forests play important roles as foundations for coastal habitats, feeding and sheltering hundreds of marine animals.

Location: Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset, UK

Technical details: Nikon D850 + 28–70mm lens; 1/40 sec at f16; ISO 160; Subal housing + Nauticam WACP-1 lens; 2x Retra Pro strobes.

Winner in the Portfolio category was French photographer Laurent Ballesta with his portfolio of six images – ‘Under Antarctic ice’ – taken in Adélie Land, Antarctica.

Laurent Ballesta endures below-freezing dives to reveal the diversity of life beneath Antarctica’s ice. An underwater photographer and biologist, Laurent has led a series of major expeditions, all involving scientific mysteries and diving challenges, and all resulting in unprecedented images. He has won multiple prizes in Wildlife Photographer of the Year, including the grand title award in 2021.

His expedition to Antarctica, exploring its vast underwater biodiversity, took two years to plan, a team of expert divers, and specially developed kit. His 32 dives in water temperature down to -1.7˚C (29°F) included the deepest, longest dive ever made in Antarctica.

Pyramid of life by Laurent Ballesta, France

Laurent Ballesta / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Living towers of marine invertebrates punctuate the seabed off Adelie Land, 32 metres (105 feet) under East Antarctic ice. Here, at the centre, a tree-shaped sponge is draped with life, from giant ribbon worms to sea stars.

Technical details: Nikon D810 + 13mm f2.8 lens; 1/13 sec at f16; ISO 800; Seacam housing; 2x Seacam strobes.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by The Natural History Museum, London.  In an intensive process, 38,575 entries from 93 countries were judged anonymously by an international panel of experts on their originality, narrative, technical excellence, and ethical practice. Dr  Doug  Gurr,  Director  of  the  Natural  History  Museum  comments:

“Wildlife  photographers  offer  us unforgettable glimpses into the lives of wild species, sharing unseen details, fascinating behaviours and front-line reporting on the climate and biodiversity crises. These images demonstrate their awe of and appreciation for the natural world and the urgent need to take action to protect it.”

The redesigned flagship exhibition which is now open at the Natural History Museum, London, positions the photographs among short videos, quotes from jury members and photographers as well as insights from Museum scientists to invite visitors to explore how human actions continue to shape the natural world. Sponsored by global green energy company Ørsted, it runs until 2nd July 2023 and will later tour the UK and internationally.

The 59th Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition will open for entries from photographers of all ages, nationalities and  levels on Monday 17th October 2022.

For more information, please visit here:

Header Image: Tony Wu / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Marine Life & Conservation

Reefs Go Live returns for new season



CCMI brings the ocean directly to classrooms around the world through live-stream lessons from underwater

In 2018, the Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) launched Reefs Go Live, their innovative, flagship education programme that live-streams directly from underwater on the coral reefs in Little Cayman to students in classrooms around the world in real time. For the 2022 season, the four episodes of Reefs Go Live reached more than 107,000 viewers in 22 countries. CCMI’s Reefs Go Live team hopes to expand their reach with four new episodes and supplemental teaching resources to help integrate the material into classroom lessons.

Science Communications & Development Manager for CCMI, Beth Chafin, is excited to be part of another year of Reefs Go Live:

“Knowing we have an audience that spans the world, our team is energised as we plan and implement our Reefs Go Live season for 2023! We feel that creating a connection to the ocean and sharing the beautiful coral reefs of Little Cayman with others, both locally and abroad, is one of the most important ways to increase support for critical, timely issues such as marine protection and sustainability. At CCMI, we are fortunate to have these stunning reefs at our doorstep; not everyone is so lucky to be this connected to coral reefs, but healthy coral reefs are vitally important to everyone on earth. Bringing the ocean into classrooms and homes through Reefs Go Live allows us to share the work we do at the Little Cayman Research Centre, facilitate real-time interactions between viewers around the world and our experts in the field, and inspire the diverse audience to take positive action for the future of coral reefs.”

The first episode of 2023 will take place on Friday, 31st March at 10 am Cayman time (UTC -5h). The episode, ‘Finding Hope on our Reefs’, will feature what CCMI’s long-term monitoring of Little Cayman’s reefs shows us. The data from the annual surveys reveals important trends in reef health over time that reflect global threats and the benefits of strong local protection. Reefs Go Live hosts will explain why this annual monitoring is important and what the results tell us about the future of our coral reefs that we all depend upon. Viewers of each episode will be able to ask questions of the diver and participate in polls through the online platform to make Reefs Go Live an interactive experience.

Additional episodes for this year will run at 10 am (UTC -5h) on the following dates:

Thursday, 11th May: Adaptation on Coral Reefs

Wednesday, 24th May: Reef Resiliency & Restoration

Thursday, 8th June: World Ocean Day – 25 Years of Coral Reef Research

Registration for Reefs Go Live is free and is only required once to receive access to all episodes:

Reefs Go Live provides an opportunity for students from all over the world to engage with the stunning ocean environment in its most natural format. As coral reefs around the world face unprecedented pressure, generating increased engagement with these precious ecosystems creates an opportunity to promote marine sustainability in a positive and fun way.

Reefs Go Live utilises streaming technology with underwater video and audio equipment to enable real time broadcasting from Little Cayman’s stunning coral reefs. Little Cayman, a Mission Blue Hope Spot, hosts one of the healthiest reef ecosystems in the Caribbean, which overall remains healthy and shows resiliency to climate change impacts. The broadcasts and education materials draw connections from CCMI’s current research conducted in Little Cayman to the national science curriculum and key ocean literacy principles, making CCMI’s work relevant and accessible to students and viewers of all ages, and emphasizing the relationship that we all have to coral reefs, no matter where we are.

Reefs Go Live is a free education programme that is made possible by the generosity of The Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation. To register for the broadcasts and teaching resources, please visit:

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Palaemon Divers shortlisted for top Business Award



North West-based Dive Centre, Palaemon Divers, has been shortlisted for Leisure and Tourism Start Up of the Year with Start Up Awards 2023.

Palaemon Divers is delighted to be named a finalist in the Awards which celebrate Start Up Businesses and what they have brought to the economy within three years of their launch.

Palaemon Divers was started by Leanne Clowes in the midst of COVID lockdowns. Leanne walked out of her well paid corporate sales job with no savings after a redundancy in a previous role and spending the majority of the year before COVID to follow the dream! After the redundancy and COVID, life struck just a little differently and the pull to become a full-time dive instructor became impossible to ignore!

So with that… notice was handed in, no savings, nothing physical to start being a full time dive instructor other than personal kit at the time – oh and the fact, Leanne was actually an Assistant Instructor at the time and hadn’t attended the instruction exam at that point as there had been none going on through COVID obviously!

However, the first Instructor Exam that was happening out of COVID was booked onto – no pressure at all with no full time job, no money as a back up, mortgage and bills to pay…

Leanne started freelancing as an instructor in the North West using various outdoor locations for training, and the business snowballed and quickly gained its first physical dive centre in January 2022 along with finding their own private in-water training facility at Princes Dock in Liverpool. Since then, 100s of new people from Liverpool and further afield have been introduced to the amazing sport of scuba, and experienced the abundant life under the surface of the dock itself.

In a time of no travel to outside your area or abroad, Palaemon Divers found something new and exciting to introduce the city of Liverpool to those who spend five days a week in the office looking down at the dock and not really being able to appreciate what the dock actually means to Liverpool!

It became apparent during 2022, that although Liverpool was fantastic, more growth was on the cards which came in the form of a second location, Palaemon Divers – Warrington. The second dive centre is an ex micro brewery in Warrington with a central location close to the M6, M62 and M56, spread over two floors which includes a classroom, workshop, compressor and a floor dedicated to retail.

The efforts in building this business have not gone unnoticed with the shortlist for Startup Awards, and also another shortlist which will be announced in the next month.

For more, email or visit: 

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