The winners of the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 contest have been unveiled at the Go Diving Show.
Underwater photographers gathered at the inaugural Go Diving Show at Ricoh Arena in Coventry on Sunday 25 February, which saw Richard Barnden from the UK named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019.
Barnden was also named British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 with his captivating image titled ‘The Gauntlet’.
The thrilling photograph shows the exact moment a pack of grey reef sharks catch and devour a parrotfish.
Barnden’s photograph triumphed more than 5,000 underwater pictures entered by underwater photographers from 65 countries around the world.
“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 said: “The turtles come to the Canary Islands by crossing the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean and have to avoid many manmade 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.”
Judge Mustard added: “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 Kimwas was named Up and Coming Underwater Photographer of theYear 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.”
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.”
Competition judge, Peter Rowlands commented: “Composition, colour vibrancy and contrast combined with an unusual angle kept it rising in the rankings with each viewing.”
About Underwater Photographer of the Year
Underwater Photographer of the Year is an annual competition based in the UK which seeks to celebrate photography beneath the surface of the ocean, lakes and even swimming pools. British photographer Phil Smith was the first underwater Photographer of the Year, named in 1965.
Today’s competition 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. This year’s judges were experienced underwater photographers Peter Rowlands, Martin Edge and Alex Mustard.
Check out the rest of the winning images on the Underwater Photographer of the Year website.