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Feb 22, 2015

Prize-winning photo

Photo by Dr. Matt Doggett
Feeding gannets
Dr. Mathew Doggett, marine biologist and photographer based in Southampton, has been named British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2015, for his photo of gannets feeding in the waters of Shetland.   This same photo, titled "Gannets Feast", also was declared the winner for best British Water Wide Angle photo.   
Dr. Doggett offered the following comments on his winning photograph.   "With my good friend Richard Shucksmith, I hatched the plan of trying to photograph gannetts diving underwater.   It was early in the season and their main food source, mackeral, was close inshore.   To attract them close enough to my lens, we threw in some dead mackeral from a local supplier, which is commonly done on birding trips to get diving photos above the surface.
The gannetts went crazy and we were surrounded within minutes.   They hit the water at 50-60 mph and I had to be fast to get the shots. I was shooting from the hip and rarely looked through the viewfinder.   Sometimes the gannetts were right on the front of the lens.   It was utterly amazing.   Your could hear them hitting the surface one after another.
This shot shows three birds, just as the race to reach the fish was over.   The lucky bird with the fish would have swallowed it whilst still underwater to avoid be harassed by hungry skuas waiting at the surface." 
JUDGE'S COMMENTS, Peter Rowlands: "There are some images which are, quite literally, breathtaking and this is up there with the best.   Timed to perfection and precisely focussed, it captures the peak of the action, which must have been extremely frantic.   I think I'd have worn a crash helmet with such fast-moving and sharp beaks plunging down so fast!   Stunning."
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