LUNDY IS A GRANITE ISLAND in the Bristol Channel, about 11 miles off the North Devon coast. Three miles long and half a mile wide, its waters have been protected since 1971, initially as a voluntary Marine Nature Reserve and now as the UK’s only designated Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ).
Celebrating the benefits to marine life that this unusual measure of protection brings, every year photographers gather on the island for the Lundy Splash In!, complete with its own exclamation mark.
The latest took place at the end of June, with 21 competitors taking part. “This year’s Splash In! was amazing,” declared Lundy’s Warden, Beccy MacDonald. “Enthusiastic competitors started early on Saturday morning armed with their cameras, ready to snap the winning shot. They collected an array of spectacular images showing the wealth of marine life within the Marine Conservation Zone and No Take Zone, which is now in its 10th year.”
The day started overcast with sunny spells but was sunny by the afternoon. Underwater visibility ranged from 5-20m, depending on the dive site.
The competitors could submit up to four original images in the categories of “Mega to Macro”, “Marine Ambience”, and “Marine Abstract”.
All shots had to be be taken within the MCZ on the day – they could be taken underwater or topside, but because the conservation zone extends only up to the high-water mark, all images had to be below this mark.
The entries were strictly controlled to ensure that they were taken on the day and that there was no opportunity to manipulate them. Cut-off time for submissions was 6pm.
The images were then inspected by external judges Stuart Philpott and Sam Stewart, who were unaware of who had taken which shot, and the winners rewarded with some spectacular prizes.
The quality of the entries was so high that it was decided to add a new category of “Judges Favourites” on the night, says Beccy.
Overall winner of the competition was Mike Deaton of Appledore Sub-Aqua Club with his image Jewel of Lundy. He won not one but two dive computers – a Suunto D6i (courtesy of Suunto) for the overall win and a Buddy Nexus Nitrox (courtesy of AP Valves) for coming first in the “Mega to Macro” category.
The “Marine Abstract” first prize of a Prestige regulator (courtesy of Mares) went to Jonny Aird for his Lightbulbs, and Mark Lavington received a set of Manta and Remora dive luggage (courtesy of Fourth Element) for winning the Marine Ambience category with Dancing Seal.
Entrants received goodie bags with a Fourth Element hat and camped for free. To mark the event, an island barbecue was held with a Lundy Lamb spit roast followed by music from the Dambuskers and friends. Other sponsors donating prizes were Olympus, Cameras Underwater, Sea & Sea Ltd, Scuba Travel, DIVER and Lundy Company.
“Everyone was full of the party spirit and thoroughly enjoyed the festivities,” says Beccy.
All the entries, winning images and their prizes can be seen on the Lundy Conservation Team Facebook page.
Want to have a go, with all those seals up for modelling Next years’ Splash In! event will be held on Saturday, 14 June.