Small fish, nudibranchs and a range of colourful critters illustrating the biodiversity of the Philippines had their day in the limelight as the 8th Anilao Underwater Shootout (AUS) took place in Mabini, Batangas from 22 to 26 May.
It was the first time the event had been held since the Covid pandemic interrupted the flow of international visitors on which the country relies, so the Department of Tourism (DoT), which organises the event, was clearly pleased to note that the underwater photographers competing included those from 14 other nations: Australia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey and the USA.
There were no British competitors among the 153 amateur and professional participants but the event had not been widely promoted in the UK. Participants were based at Solitude Acacia Resort and Aiyanar Beach & Dive Resort.
The DoT describes the Underwater Shootout as “the world’s largest underwater macro photography competition”, and at the event tourism secretary Christina Garcia Frasco said that it strengthened the country’s position as “the world’s leading dive destination” and provided a “big boost to the promotion of dive tourism in the Philippines, and also to the rebooting of the travel and tourism industry”.
There were 426 photographic entries across the competition’s 14 categories, and these were judged by a panel of underwater photographers consisting of Aaron Wong, Brook Peterson, Franco Banfi, Rafael Fernandez Caballero and Scott Gutsy Tuason.
The organisers emphasise that the competition implements a strict “no marine life manipulation” policy, with dive-guides as well as photographers required to sign up to a code of conduct before the event. Unusually, the individual guides who work with photographers are credited when the winners are announced.
Those winners received underwater photography and dive gear valued at 1.7 million pesos (£24,300) from event partners and sponsors AOI, Divers Point, Fourth Element, Marelux, Migalabs, Nauticam, Nautilus Dive & Sports Centre, Raptor Case, Scubalamp, Scuba Studio, Squires Sports and XDeep.
Also on Divernet: Underwater Photography Masterclass By Alex Mustard, Hugycup shoot-out returns in December, Dive into Paradise: Exploring the Philippines’ best dive spots, Be The Champ! – Strobeless, Be The Champ! – Palau, Be The Champ! – Schools