The inaugural Whyalla Underwater Shootout held over the long weekend from June 7-9th was a resounding success, according to its organisers. The competition, which was hosted by the Marine Life Society of South Australia attracted 96 entries from eleven photographers from around the state. Facing the chilly waters of Upper Spencer Gulf in the winter time, they suited up, snorkelled, dived and clicked away in the shallow waters off Whyalla and Point Lowly.
To qualify for the competition, images had to be captured over the long weekend, and submitted without any cropping or photoshopping. The judging of the 96 entries was handled by three expert MLSSA members: Scoresby Shepherd (marine scientist and MLSSA’s patron), Paul Macdonald from Downunderpix (professional underwater photographer) and Emma Monceaux (artist and representative of multimedia company, Danimations).
The competition was tight, with Cuttlefish and After Dark categories decided with tie-breaker votes.
|Cuttlefish||Paskett, Alan||McLean, Lisa|
|After Dark||Charter, Carl||Possagno, Carlo|
|Macro||Monceaux, Dan||Muirhead, David|
|Flora/Scenic||Charter, Carl||Possagno, Carlo|
|Fauna (non-cuttlefish)||Monceaux, Dan||Muirhead, David|
|Portfolio (total score)||Sutandio, Alexius|
Of the eleven photographers, two were local to the Whyalla area, one came from Port Lincoln and the rest travelled from Adelaide for the event. Many of the entrants had not seen the region’s mass cuttlefish aggregation before, and the animals were certainly the star subject, featuring in approximately two thirds of entries.
A celebration of World Oceans Night held at the Hotel Eyre on June 8th added an educational and social component to the event. Talks were given on underwater photography, monitoring for invasive and threatened species and how to become a marine citizen scientist. An opportunity to playtest a prototype for a computer game based on the perilous life of the Giant Australian Cuttlefish was also well received, with participants experiencing the thrill of chasing mates, laying eggs and escaping predators first hand.
The Marine Life Society of South Australia has enjoyed a membership boost off the back of the event, and is presently considering organising a similar event to be held closer to Adelaide in the summer time.