Shark feeding frenzy wins underwater photo award

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A photograph showing the exact moment a pack of grey reef sharks catch and devour a parrotfish sees Briton Richard Barnden named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019.

The picture, The Gauntlet, was taken late at night on the reefs of French Polynesia in the centre of the Pacific Ocean.

Image source, Richard Barnden/UPY2019

"As I descended, hundreds of sharks covered the bottom. This unlucky parrotfish flinched - and that tiny movement alerted the swarm of sharks," said Barnden.

"The mayhem hurtled straight towards me and I instinctively pressed the shutter, moments later all that remained was a rain of parrotfish scales in the darkness - and this photo on my camera."

Alexander Mustard, who chaired the panel of judges, said; "Photography is about preserving moments - and what an unforgettable instant this is.

"Using a wide-angle lens, the photographer takes us into the full drama of the hunt, as a melee of grey reef sharks rise like a breaking wave to tear apart their prey, truly revealing the ocean's wilder side."

Eduardo Acevedo, from Tenerife, was named Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2019 for his photo showing a loggerhead turtle entangled in a discarded plastic fishing net.

Image source, Eduardo Acevedo/UPY2019

Korean Taeyup Kim was named Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2019 for a technically challenging image half in and half out of the water, which shows healthy corals growing in front of a resort in French Polynesia.

"This photo was physically tough to shoot, holding the heavy camera exactly in this position while floating in the water," said Kim.

Image source, Taeyup Kim/UPY2019

The title of Most Promising British Underwater Photographer 2019 goes to Malcolm Nimmo, from Plymouth.

His image, of a compass jellyfish, was taken while snorkelling off the Scilly Islands.

"Maintaining both the surface features and subject illumination requires high strobe power settings and hence careful strobe positioning," said Nimmo.

"Hopefully this image highlights the beautiful marine environments we are lucky to have around the UK."

Image source, Malcolm Nimmo/UPY2019

The competition had 13 categories, testing photographers with themes such as Macro, Wide Angle, Behaviour and Wreck Photography, as well as four categories for photos taken in British waters.

Image source, François Baelen/UPY2019
Image caption,
François Baelen's wide-angle shot of a resting humpback whale was taken 15m (50ft) below the surface. While free diving, Baelen was also able to capture his fellow diver and the whale's curious calf.
Image source, Fabio Iardino/UPY2019
Image caption,
Fabio Iardino won the Macro category with this image of a swiftly moving sepiola in the Gulf of Trieste, in north-east Italy.
Image source, René B. Andersen/UPY2019
Image caption,
The wreck of The HMS Audacious sits off the northern coast of County Donegal. René B Andersen battled against currents to capture this long-exposure shot.
Image source, Scott Portelli/UPY2019
Image caption,
Scott Portelli captured this group of whales and dolphins moving at high speed off the coast of Vava'u, Tonga. "After 16 years documenting some of the most common and unusual behaviour seen by humpbacks in the region, this was a truly heart-thumping and adrenaline-pumping action to be a part of," said Portelli.
Image source, Nicholas Samaras/UPY2019
Image caption,
This illuminating portrait of a small ray was taken by Nicholas Samaras in the waters of Stratoni, on the north-eastern coast of the Chalkidiki peninsula, in northern Greece.
Image source, Henley Spiers/UPY2019
Image caption,
This striking black-and-white shot by Henley Spiers captures a single cormorant diving into a school of fish.
Image source, Enrico Somogyi/UPY2019
Image caption,
Enrico Somogyi's image of fishermen at work as a hairy frogfish lurks below was achieved by using a double exposure setting in the camera.
Image source, Matej Begoc/UPY2019
Image caption,
This shot was taken by Matej Begoc in a remote bay of Solta island, during a sailing trip in Croatia.
Image source, Robert Bailey/UPY2019
Image caption,
A scuba diver approaches a cluster of colourful jewel anemones off the coast of Scilly in this shot by Robert Bailey.
Image source, Arthur Kingdon/UPY2019
Image caption,
Arthur Kingdon's picture was made during a dive in Loch Duic, on the west coast of Scotland. A long clawed squat lobster poses outside his home, made from a piece of plastic pipe, while sea loch anemones decorate the entrance.
Image source, Victoria Walker/UPY2019
Image caption,
A shoal of mackerel are caught out by the spring low tide in St Ives harbour, Cornwall, in Victoria Walker's wide-angle shot.
Image source, Martin Edser/UPY2019
Image caption,
An inquisitive young seal gave photographer Martin Edser a warm welcome during a dive off the coast of the Farne Islands, Northumberland.
Image source, Noam Kortler/UPY2019
Image caption,
A seahorse trapped in a plastic cup drifts in the current in the Red Sea resort of Eilat, Israel. This shot was taken by Noam Kortler, before releasing the creature, to highlight the damage done by plastic products.