The British Society of Underwater Photographers (BSoUP)

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BSoUP's Splash-in Competition 2001

by Andy Clark

Reproduced from in focus 72 (October 2001)


Like rainbows through leaden skies, the annual Splash In flicked colour into the otherwise ashen uncertainty of Bovisands' future. Through corridors and stairways the colour flowed, transforming itself into humour and high spirit within an eager gathering of BSoUP members in the bar. Tables and chairs occupied the enthusiastic, speculative entrants,

"What's the forecast?" Someone asked, prompting everyone to glance out across Plymouth Sound. "And the viz?" Another queried.

The group occupied themselves emptying glasses and mused over various text messages being bounced back and forth to members of the Stevenage Underwater Photographic Society, engaging themselves in a similar manner somewhere in the Farnes. '33 basking sharks spotted at Porthousestock,' Alan James reported. 'School (should that be pod?) of killer whales spotted in tropical heat wave off Farnes, 'from Sue heaps, only to be outdone with reports of mermaids kidnapping Ken Sullivan from the bar and similar, equally unlikely events. You get the picture. And as wine and spirit f lowed, idle chat of the temperature of light and the future of the steel hulled boot in the harbour mixed and merged and drifted into daft and vocal nonsense. Time to leave I think!

Diver ascending shot line by Guy Middleton. Winner wide-angle category 'On the Day'

Diver ascending shot line by Guy Middleton. Winner wide-angle category 'On the Day'

Diver on James Eagan Layne by Peter Hewitt. Third in the wide-angle category 'On the Day'

Diver on James Eagan Layne by Peter Hewitt. Third in the wide-angle category 'On the Day'


I awoke to the chorus of gulls and puffins from radio 4's 'open country' and news of an 8 year old boy having his arm severed by a shark, some far-off land. Through the grey drizzle a solitary walk around the harbour highlighted the quietness of it all - many BSoUP faces noticeable by their absence. Harbour walls and slipway all but bare. The orderly queue at room 16 wound around the registration point, collected film and deported. Small groups gathered for the Bovi Shuttle, others chose the slipway and Pete Ladell, with mountain goat energy, braved the rocks and headed for the pools.

I wandered around between dives, dodging showers, soaking up the sunny spells, the latter prompting many to make a determined switch to wide angle.

I heard talk of black-faced blennies and sun fish. Bert Lee spotted a lumpsucker off the rocks and Tony White and Alan James suffered 'camera failure'and 'housing problems.'

Comings and goings of the day drifted into evening. Participants and supporters alike wandered in and out of our allocated room, gathered before the 59 print entries and cast their votes. The display was impressive - black and whites, dramatic wreck shots, sunbursts, silhouettes, caves and striking portraits. It was all there in various guises and various degrees of genius. The crowd shuffled from right to left and back again, nodding agreement or offering their indifference. More text messages arrived with Sue Heaps apparently 'surfing with blue dolphins', the reply of 'pair of mating celeocanths in bath tub at Bovi' ending the creativity contest, the prize going to Ken.


[Whilst the films were being processed, Keith Hiscock gave a presentation on MarLIN]

The Marine Life Information Network for Britain and Ireland (MarLIN) evolved in the mid 1990s to provide awareness and education to the threat of various ecological risks in industry. Essentially the group outlines the potential disasters business may cause and assesses the sensitivity and recoverability of marine species at industry sites. The network is such that it is able to identify and evaluate species local to industry in any UK region.

Flatfish by Len Deeley. Third in the macro category 'On the Day'

Flatfish by Len Deeley. Third in the macro category 'On the Day'

Working within WWF Oceans Recovery Campaign, MarLIN together with National Biodiversity Network (NBN) strives to map the entire British Isles and provide web site users information on the 370 biotypes and sub-biotypes in UK classif ication. Through the many pages of the web, users can access inf ormation and search for,

o Species by species name, common name and phylum

o Biotypes by biotype code, biotype name and biotype keyword

o Species and biotype by legislation and convention, and

o Species or biotype sensitive to specified activities.

Much of the information carries images but the group has a hit list of around 50 species it still seeks (BSoUP is being sent the list). But as Keith Hiscock explains, 'Don't expect payment. All we can do is credit the photographer.' And if, as you browse, you find you have an image of a species that is better than that displayed, send it in! Keith admits to some images being 'poor' and is only too happy to accept alternatives. In addition, there is a facility for you to report sightings of marine life that may be unusual in certain regions, and your report may help the mapping.

The group has plans to expand the library of images and perhaps run marine life identification courses, but primarily the work will be towards ef fort to eradicate complacency within commerce.
The web site is a complex one and there are many links and much information. Whether browsing or studying the information provided is of scientific paper quality and refereed where possible. To get a real idea of the quality and vastness, visit the site at

Thanks to Keith Hiscock, Programme Director.

Plumose anemone by Tom Cowan - winner in the Macro category 'On the Day'

The competition

Fevered excitement followed the return of film. Light boxes and lopes, scissors and mounts passed through anticipant hands, selected slides offered for second or even third opinion. To the arenal

It had been a good day. Enjoyment had topped the bill and prevailed through the various minor problems with technology, the occasional drizzle and the easi ly rectified bleach problem in the processing.

But this year's event posed a few questions and Peter Tatton was curious,

The 34 entries this year was slightly down on lost, but why? Certainly a contributing factor could be in the decision not to advertise the event. With the complex being once again in the hands of receivers, the event may well have been blown out at any time.

The uncertainty was echoed in the request for a show of hands of those who'd booked accommodation within the complex. One third of the audience had chosen alternative digs.

Equally, one third had dived from the shore where normally they may have used the Bovi Shuttle, and on the question of a possible change of venue for future events, and maybe a price increase of 10%, objections numbered zero. Watch this space!

Incidently, and on a lighter note, attempts to encourage more wide angle entries seems to be working. I estimated approximately 1/5th of print entries were wide angle, and entries for 'On The Day' averaged about 1/3 rd of all real time entries - in comparison, last years wide angle averaged at 1/6 th! Keep it up!

Celebrations continued on the dance floor with Pete Ladell and his removable trouser legs, and Anita Marshall hijacking turn tables, not before time!

The hardy few twisted the night away and made all sort of curious shapes on the polished pine floorboards.

Tomorrow some of this gathering would be braving the Plymouth waters again to take their chances in the Fish Hunt. The Cheshire boys up at the crack of down, 'breakfast on the hoof' to 'fffffssssssssshhhh' down to Cornwall in search of basking sharks. Good luck to them!



Position Points Photographer Subject
1st 35 Alan James Big Eye
2nd 21 Heather Hammond Dolphins
3rd 21 Tony White Crab
PRINTS - UK      
1st 14 Paul Dawson Seal
2nd 9 Derek Haslarn Tompot blenny
3rd 8 Alan James Cuttlefish
ON THE DAY      
1st 43 Tom Cowan Plumose anemone
2nd 31 Lesley Maw Tompot blenny
3rd 27 Len Deeley Flatfish
1st 60 Guy Middleton Diver on shot line
2nd 53 Alan James Diver on James Eagan Layne
3rd 44 Peter Hewitt Diver on James Eagan Layne
1st 42 Peter Hewitt  




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DiveQuest - Sponsor of the Underwater Excelence

AP Valves - Sponsor of British Splash-in Competition

Cameras Underwater - Sponsor of the BSoUP/DIVER Print Competition

DiveLife, Manchester, Sponsor of the Open Portfolio Competition 2014

Frogfish Photography

Diver Magazine - Sponsor of the Annual Beginners Portfolio Competition and the BSoUP/DIVER Print Competition


Egyptian Ministry of Tourism

Marine Conservation Society - Sponsor of the Splash-In 2014

Federico Cabello

Scimitar Diving - Sponsor of the Splash-In 2014

Nudibranchs of the South West

O'Three - Sponsor of the Splash-In 2014

UnderWaterVisions - Sponsor of the Splash-in 2013 and 2014

SCUBA Magazine, Sponsor of the Best of British Portfolio COmpetition 2014

The Wildlife Trusts - Sponsor of the the BSoUP/DIVER Print Competition

Scuba Travel

Sea & Sea - Sponsor of the British Underwater Photography Championship 2013


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