Cape Town - It's no doubt we live on one of the most extraordinary planets in the universe - and Planet Earth just never seizes to amaze us.
Whether it's the discovery of new species that roam the earth's surface
, or the discovery of a new super-planet in the vast universe
. Or just a small glimpse into the unexplored world beneath our seas...
This stunning image shot by Pier Mane from South Africa, who was named the Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2016 contest, show just that. Mane claimed this esteemed title for his image “Three Pillars” photographed in the Bahamas.
“Shark dives are exciting, but that makes them one of the hardest places to think as a photographer,” Dr Alexander Mustard, marine biologist and chair of the judging panel says. “Pier deserves particular praise in producing such a powerful composition, when most of us would have our eyes and lenses fixed only on the sharks.”
Italian Davide Lopresti, beat entrants from 54 different countries to be named the overall winner of the Underwater Photographer of the Year for his image “Gold”.
Lopresti’s winning picture is artistic portrait of a spiny seahorse taken in Trieste, Italy.
He set out to photograph the seahorses to celebrate their return to areas of the Mediterranean that have been protected from destructive fisheries, such as trawling, the UPY 2016 says.
"Artistically and technically impressive, Lopresti’s photo combines panning and a long exposure, which create painterly textures from the seabed. He then used a flash restricted to a spotlight to pick out the details of the seahorse. It is simply beautiful and creative, a very worthy overall winner, Mustard says.
The title of British Underwater Photographer of the Year was awarded to Dan Bolt from Devon for his photo “Catshark Supernova”.
This award is open to all British residents and British nationals wherever they are based in the world. Bolt’s winning picture was taken close to home in Thurlstone Bay. “The reef system there is a favoured laying ground for the smallspotted catshark,” said Bolt. “The eggs are also known as mermaid’s purses. I carefully positioned my strobe behind the egg to reveal its hidden beauty.”
The title of Most Promising British Underwater Photographer, 2016, was awarded to Marty Engels Dunmore from Suffolk for her image “Fired Up” taken on the Kittiwake wreck in Grand Cayman.
Preparation paid off for Engels Dunmore as “it isn't easy to produce a unique image of this well loved wreck," the photographers says. "This picture was planned long before I’d ever seen the wrecks with my own eyes. Deep inside I found this wonderful old machine, and placed my dive torch inside, as if the fire was still burning.”
In addition to these four special awards, the competition was divided into 8 categories, testing photographers’ skills in macro, wide angle, wrecks and behaviour. There were also categories just for photos taken in UK waters.
Three qualified marine experts namely Alex Mustard, Martin Edge and Peter Rowlands select the award winners for the 2016 Underwater Photographer of the Year winners.
“It was astounding and humbling seeing the quality,” Mustard, chair of the judging panel and the driving force behind UPY, says. “It is a tough job distilling them down to the very best. Every single image that placed is an amazing moment from the underwater world. And many that nearly made the collection, were almost as stunning. There has never been such strength in depth in underwater photography.”YOU ALSO NEED TO SEE: Fatal attraction: Underwater photos show sharks in all their frightening beauty