“I am deeply honoured to have one of my photographs selected to represent such a reference as DAN Europe, which is by far the world's most recognised dive safety agency" - said Mr Péneau in a statement.
“I have become a Member when I started travelling abroad, it kept me reassured and serene as I know DAN can be trusted even in remote places (…)”
Umberto Giorgini, Director of Operations at DAN Europe, stated: “The tender yet powerful image of two cetaceans, a mother and her calf diving together in the bluest waters is so meaningful, and well represents our values towards safer diving activities in more protected, healthier Oceans. We are delighted that this photo will be displayed to all our Members on the newly designed DAN Europe App, instead of the classic but outdated PVC card”.
“Organising an international photo contest in Covid times was quite a challenge, but the response from both photographers and public was fantastic - declared Agnese Zane, head of the organisation committee with Davide Barzazzi and Stefano Cerbai. “637 photos were submitted by photographers from 16 different countries, and quality was surprisingly high. In addition, Venice is always a place of captivating beauty. The whole experience made for a truly successful edition”.
Two more photos, both macro - an octopus in Mediterranean waters by Raffaella Spagnolello, and a colourful pipefish shot in the Philippines by Giorgio Cavallaro - were selected for a special mention prize. All winners received a free DAN Europe Sport Silver Membership.
The story behind an incredible shot
As told by the photographer himself: “Humpback Whales are migratory species who spend the Austral Summer in Antarctic waters to feed, and come up in Tropical waters to breed and mate. In Reunion Island we are lucky to have them every year, they like coming close to the shore, and with patience and care it is possible to get close to those curious gentle giants. Each whale can be identified by the shape and unique black and white pattern on the underside of its fluke, which can be photo-ID and named. This mother was named Méréva and was one of the stars of the 2018 season, often coming very close to snorkelers who approached her”.
Nikon D7200, Tokina 10-17 fisheye zoom lens, Nauticam housing + minidome, natural light (no strobes), f10, 1/125, ISO 200.
About the photographer
“Like all French kids who were born in the 1970s I grew up watching Cousteau's adventures on TV every Sunday afternoon and dreaming of exploring underwater worlds, but it was not until the age of 30 that I had the chance to try scuba diving. I immediately fell in love with it and since then I have dived in various locations, become an instructor and moved to tropical French overseas department Reunion Island where I have lived and worked as a high school teacher since 2006. I started underwater photography in 2007 with compact cameras, and upgraded to a DSLR kit in 2011. I am rather eclectic in taste, I like all kinds of shots, from macro photographs of critters in shallow rock pools to reefscapes wide angle shots, including -of course- cetaceans in the deep blue. I have travelled to various places in the world (especially to Asia which is my favourite "diving continent") but I also regularly dive locally and never miss a "whale season" when we are lucky to have gentle giants visiting us in high numbers”.
About Abissi Venice
The Venice competition was created in 2008 by the Abissi-Underwater Photo Venice association, with the aim to let the world know more about the sea and its breathtaking beauties through photography, organisation of events, exhibitions and courses. The DAN Europe Card prize has been introduced in 2015.
Over the years Abissi has established itself as one of the most interesting underwater photo competitions on the national and international scene. A great event in one of the world's most beautiful cities, Venice. Printed copies of all winning photos in the various competition categories - 27 shots selected by a jury of experts over 637 photos submitted this year - are exhibited at the National History Museum, in the picturesque "Gallery of Cetaceans". Over the last 11 years, photos from the competition have been enriching the archives of the museum, also serving for educational and research purposes.