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Credit Sam Mansfield

'Sardines and Gulls' - Credit: Sam Mansfield. Instagram @cornwallsnorkel 

Coastal beauty of Devon and Cornwall shines in photo competition

The beauty of Devon and Cornwall’s coasts and seas has been celebrated with the Exeter Marine photo competition.

Launched to coincide with Underwater Film Festival on 22 November at the University of Exeter’s Penryn campus, the competition received more than 200 entries in just two weeks. 

Exeter Marine is a collaboration of top researchers at the University of Exeter committed to understanding all aspects of the marine environment.

This is the first time Exeter Marine has run a photo competition, and it was held with support from Falmouth University and Fourth Element.

Entrants were asked to submit images of maritime landscapes, marine wildlife, underwater worlds and the diverse people that depend on the costal and marine world in Cornwall and Devon.

The photographs varied from close-up ‘macros’ of seaweed, to surfers enjoying the waves along the north coast.

Submissions were shared on the Exeter Marine social media channels throughout the two weeks using the tag #ExeterMarinePhotoComp.

Judges chose Sam Mansfield’s photo ‘Sardines and Gulls’, which shows Cornwall's sardine fishermen casting their nets after dusk, as the winner.

Sam, who won a £250 Fourth Element voucher, said: “I took the photo just a little after sunset as darkness took hold in Mounts Bay, about 10 minutes’ motor out from Newlyn Harbour. 

“The boats are after sardines, a fishery vital to many of Cornwall’s coastal communities for hundreds of years, though back in the day they called them pilchards.

“To avoid spooking the shoals of fish, the boats search in near darkness, with the lights off, and it's only when the nets are hauled in close they illuminate the deck and surrounding water, which gave me a chance to grab this photo.

“The sea and coasts of Devon and Cornwall give so much to so many of us. It's wonderful to have a photo competition to celebrate them. I'm over the moon to have won and excited to see what next year has in store.”

Saeed Rashid, one of the judges who presented the prizes on the night, said: “For me, one of the main criteria when picking a winning image is being able looking at that image and wishing that I had taken it myself. That’s just what I did when I saw Sam’s ‘Sardines and Gulls’ image, it is a beautiful representation of Cornish life.

“Sam has managed to use a slower shutter speed that has given motion and energy to the birds, while still keeping the boat and it’s crew pin sharp. I can almost hear the gulls crying out while fighting each other to pick up some fishy scraps left by the fishermen emptying their nets. 

“Well done Sam, you have inspired me and hopefully many others to go out and photograph those that work in and around our beautiful seas a lot more.”

Malcolm Nimmo was awarded 1st runner up for his ‘Common Prawn’ image and 2nd runner up went to Ellie Stones’ image ‘Baby Seagulls’.

As well as showcasing the competition entries, the festival also screened films created by Exeter and Falmouth University students and recent graduates in the aim of inspiring the audience to get out there and explore the sea.

All entries can be seen on the Exeter Marine Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.

Date: 3 December 2019