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Dive Against Debris® Activist Wins World Oceans Day Photo Contest

The story behind the “Clean Our Ocean” theme winning shot

Dive Against Debris World Oceans Day
Project AWARE News

For the fifth year running, ocean lovers from all walks of life shared the beauty and importance of the ocean, through their photographs, in the increasingly popular World Oceans Day Photo Contest.

The results were announced on World Oceans Day, Friday June 8 2018, at a reception at United Nations Headquarters in New York attended by several hundred delegates. We were thrilled to see Rosie Leaney’s passion and commitment to a clean ocean being recognized in this year’s new category: Clean Our Ocean.

In one amazing panoramic shot, Rosie captured the negative consequences of marine debris beneath the waves, whilst inspiring and encouraging positive action for a clean ocean, including representing the power and responsibility we have as scuba divers to protect what we love.

Rosie shares the story behind her winning shot and her experience as a Dive Against Debris activist:

image of dive centre manly Project AWARE banner team photoI have been involved in organizing Dive Against Debris with Dive Centre Manly (Sydney, Australia) for nearly three years now. We started off by having 5-10 volunteers show up, which was what I expected, but more and more people wanted to help. We usually now have 80-100 volunteers turn up to get in the water - it shows how passionate the local community is about this issue! Our adopted site, Manly Cove, is a busy urban beach surrounded by cafes, fast food outlet and bars, so is heavily impacted by plastic pollution. Through running Dive Against Debris surveys it's lovely to meet so many like-minded people and know that what we are doing, and the data we are logging, is really helping to make a difference.

I wanted to make a panoramic photo to depict a Dive Against Debris and inspire people to join in, whether at an event, or just on their regular dive with their buddy. Dive Centre Manly has a digital camera with a wide fisheye lens set up on a tripod specifically designed to create underwater 360 degree panoramas. Just as you would for a land panorama, you rotate the camera in increments between each shot. Each shot overlaps the next by a little, which allows you to use software to stitch the images together as one.

After practicing this technique for a few weeks, I decided to attempt the Dive Against Debris shot. Four of my dive instructor colleagues were keen to help out, so we prepared for our own little clean up dive at Manly Cove. It was a summer evening and we met after work and hastily got into the water so we didn’t miss the last of the sunlight. The divers set about collecting some trash whilst I positioned the camera. Each diver then approached me for their separate shot, and I used a video-light to light them. It took a few attempts to co-ordinate it all, but I knew we’d got something good when a curious leatherjacket fish approached and posed for the final image (seen on the far left on the panorama)! We managed to catch the sun just before it went down, giving that lovely golden light. I was not sure how well this idea was going to work, so I was pleasantly surprised when the images stitched together so well! We have been using this image to continually promote our Dive Against Debris program.

Join us in congratulating Rosie on her winning shot and join the movement for a clean ocean!
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