Wildlife photographers across the UK are being challenged to capture underwater images of the rare European native oyster (Ostrea edulis), as international conservation charity ZSL (Zoological Society of London) launches a national native oyster hunt to galvanise support for the species. Having suffered a 95% decline in population over the last 200 years due to historic overfishing, habitat loss, pollution and the introduction of diseases, images of the species in their natural habitat on the seabed are very rare.
Project managers hope that images and video generated through the competition will help to answer questions around the oysters’ recovery, including revealing if there are indeed any oyster reefs left and whether other endangered species like the spiny seahorse (Hippocampus guttulatus) or European eel (Anguilla anguilla) are associated with the habitat.
Judged by a panel of professional photographers: Tom Gilks, Picture Editor at BBC Wildlife Magazine; Tom Mason, professional wildlife photographer and Nikon Europe Optics Ambassador; and oyster expert Dr Philine zu Ermgassen of the European Native Oyster Restoration Alliance (NORA), the competition will run from 1st March through to 31st of September with the winners announced on December 1st 2020.
The winner will win a one-day advanced photography workshop hosted at ZSL with professional photographer and National Geographic Explorer, Dave Stevenson and a BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Club) diving membership including access to UK-wide training, a monthly magazine, insurance cover and discounts on dive holidays, kindly donated by BSAC. Runner-up prizes include a BSAC membership and a £100 voucher towards completing any PADI training also generously donated by the Oyster Diving Company, the UK’s premier PADI scuba diving and travel company.
Information on how to enter can be found at: www.nativeoysternetwork.org/nativeoysterquest
Photos courtesy of ZSL.