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Dorset’s volunteer divers are revealing the secrets of our seas with astonishing new images of marine wildlife.
Dorset Wildlife Trust has announced the winners of the Dorset Seasearch Underwater Photography Competition, which was launched to find the photos that tell us the most about little-known species or habitats.
Seasearch is part of a national programme to record the wildlife hidden beneath the water, using a combination of written notes and photographs from volunteer sports divers, and is co-ordinated locally by Dorset Wildlife Trust.
Kathryn Dawson, Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Marine Survey & Data Officer, said:
“These pictures are not just amazing to look at but give us important information about species and habitats that very few people ever see. This is a very exciting time as we push back frontiers of knowledge with our Seasearch dive programme to find out what is living in our seas and where the top spots are for wildlife. Data from our volunteer divers was instrumental in the selection of part of Dorset’s seabed for European protection and is being used now to help the selection of the new UK marine reserves, but we still have so much more to discover.”
The winner was Richard Yorke, whose striking image of ‘south-claw’ hermit crabs in formation at Worbarrow Bay won him a free weekend’s diving.
Richard’s photo was chosen from the hundreds of images taken during 2010 as part of the research and survey work of the Seasearch programme.
The competition was judged by renowned marine biologist, diver and photographer, Paul Naylor, who said:
“The competition entries were excellent and showed a wonderful variety of marine life that emphasised the richness of our seas. The winning photo made me gasp in amazement when I saw it, so many of the crabs, all showing their large left claws, a wonderful pattern of them among the eel-grass”.
1st runner up was Richard Yorke again with his photo of a little cuttle, 2nd runner-up was Gordon Bird’s unusual image of a pair of necklace shells and 3rd runner-up was Peter Szekely, with his stunning picture of the nudibranch or seaslug, Polycera. Cara Gammage, Matt Doggett, Fiona Ravenscroft and Mike Markey were also highly commended.
Divers who are interested in helping to record Dorset’s underwater wildlife can contact Kathryn Dawson on 01305 264620. Catch up with the latest marine sightings online at www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/marinesightings.