DIVING NEWS

Blenny popular choice at Torbay

The fourth annual Splash-in underwater photography competition run by the Torbay branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club, postponed by coronavirus from July, took place in challenging weather conditions in West Country waters on 19 September.

The scuba divers were competing in four categories: Beginner, Compact Camera, Wide-Angle and Close-Up/Macro. Category judge Peter Rowlands, working remotely to maintain social distancing, described the sea conditions as “the essence, and also the attraction, of a Splash-in.

“You’re all, so to speak, in the same boat,” he said. “With good weather it’s easier, but when the conditions and visibility are significantly restricted it becomes a test of your photographic mettle.” At the end of the day 49 photos were submitted by 12 of the 19 registered competitors.

The entries were shown that evening at a dinner and presentation at the Royal Torbay Yacht Club “observing the Rule of Six”, and those present established a Popular Vote overall winner, with a watch prize from manufacturer Christopher Ward. Drysuit manufacturer O’Three sponsored the Beginner category.

The Popular Vote was for this shot of a ringneck blenny (Parablennius pilicornis) taken by Simon Temple.

“I decided to dive Easter Kings reef in Plymouth,” he explained. “Big spring tides over the competition weekend meant that I had to dive at high water and, even then, there was little or no slack water. Visibility was not ideal – 2-3m at best and lots of sediment in the water.”

7 October 2020

Temple had gone prepared to shoot blennies and jewel anemones, which he said were the only two species that could be guaranteed to be found at the site at that time of year.

“The blennies were generally very nervous of divers, more than normal, which made it hard to approach them. I used an 85mm macro lens, which allows me to capture lots of detail without getting too close. But the further you are away from the subject in dirty water, the harder lighting the subject becomes.

“I decided to submit this shot of the variable or ringneck blenny as they were relatively rare until a couple of years ago, being more of a Mediterranean species. Despite becoming more common, their colours and facial expressions still fascinate me.”

The Beginner category was won by Oliver Newhouse; Close-Up/Macro by Dan Bolt; Wide Angle by Dave Peake; and Compact Camera by Guy Mitchell.

Winning shots can be found on the club’s website.