The winners of the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 contest have been unveiled at the Go Diving Show.

Winners of Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 Revealed
UPY jury of Martin Edge, Peter Rowlands and Alex Mustard with the UPY Print display 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.

Winners of Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 Revealed
© Richard Barnden /UPY2019

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.

Winners of Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 Revealed
© Eduardo Acevedo /UPY2019

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.

Winners of Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 Revealed
© Taeyup   Kimwas /UPY2019

“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. 

Winners of Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 Revealed
© Malcolm Nimmo/UPY 2019

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.

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