Italian underwater photographer David Salvatori, 52, has died in a diving incident off western Sicily.
According to reports from Trapani Port Authority, Salvatori had been diving with two friends and a guide some way out from the small island of Favignana in the early afternoon on Sunday (3 July). They were at a depth of about 40m when the guide realised that Salvatori was unwell and brought him back up to the dive-boat, where attempts were made to resuscitate him.
A Coast Guard vessel escorted the boat to Trapani, but Salvatori was pronounced dead while still at the harbourmaster’s office. The other divers were transferred to a hyperbaric chamber, and the Public Prosecutor’s Office is carrying out an investigation into the incident.
Salvatori started diving on a holiday in the Maldives in 2006, and the following year took up underwater photography to reflect his interest in marine life.
He would organise photographic expeditions to raise awareness about conservation issues and won a number of awards in international competitions. These included a memorable winning image in the 2019 World Oceans Day Photo Competition, showing his wife Cristina dwarfed by a dense blackwater-type biomass off Sicily, where he carried out much of his favourite Mediterranean diving.
The two of them shared many underwater experiences and he had said that his wife seemed to feature in many of his most successful images. The couple lived in Cerveteri in the Lazio region of central Italy, where Salvatori worked as a project manager.
Recently he wrote: “My encounter with water, which took place about 15 years ago, was dazzling, and marks a dividing line between my first and my second life. Today I can only fully feel myself when I am under water.”
The photographer’s work can be seen on his website ilmaresonoio.com (“The Sea Is Me” – a quote from freediver Jacques Mayol). His first photographic book Reflections From The Past was published in 2015, and he had recently brought out a new book in the Scatti Sommersi (Submerged Shots) series on the work of leading Italian underwater photographers.
In the foreword Adam Hanlon of WetPixel wrote of Salvatori: “His success as a communicator is reflected in his repeated success in significant global photographic competitions and, perhaps more pertinently, in his ability to illustrate the crucial need to protect the marine environment to the public at large.”