Competition captures iSimangaliso’s beauty and diversity

Run Ride Dive News

Exceptionally high photographic standards were seen in the recent iSimangaliso Sodwana Bay Shootout powered by Nauticam (Dive Action Cape Town), capturing some of the incredible diversity and fragile beauty to be seen both above and below the ocean in the World Heritage Site.


Originally an underwater competition, the categories were expanded in recent years to enable non-diving photographers to enter in the ‘Land’ category as well, with photographs eligible from anywhere within iSimangaliso Wetland Park. This resulted in an interesting mix of images coming through including the recently introduced lions in the uMkhuze section of the park.

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Geo Cloete, Advanced Underwater category

The winning overall photograph, of a Midas blenny, was taken by seasoned professional photographer Dr Geoff Spiby, who travelled from Cape Town with family and friends to participate. Geoff also won the Advanced Underwater category with his portfolio entitled “At home where I usually live on the reef”.


His son, Kevin, scooped the prize for photographing the most fish species during the six-day competition – 135 of the 1200+ species that are known to occur in this section of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.


Geoff was thrilled with his fabulous prizes, which totalled around R60 000 and included underwater camera housing equipment and a shark diving trip to Fiji, saying “A big thanks to all the organising team and judges and especially to Barry Bey-Leveld from Dive Action for sponsoring the Nauticam housing.”


Professional photographer Allen Walker, also a past winner and one of the judges of this competition, said, “The iSimangaliso Sodwana Bay Shootout 2015 powered by Nauticam is one of only a handful of competitions around the world held at a specific location, where all the competitors compete in the same conditions, rules and amount of time. Entrants need to produce world-class portfolios over a five-day shooting period and at the end of the day the best underwater photographer is judged the overall winner. This is the truest test of any underwater photographer’s skills and the fairest form of competition amongst competitors from South Africa and around the world.”

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Estienne Janse van Rensburg once again took first prize in the Advanced Land category

“Sodwana Bay did not disappoint with a week of outstanding diving conditions and with some top notch photographers back in the competition, we saw the standard of photography once again make this event of world class standard. We hope to see this become the premier South African underwater photography contest with the support of all South African and international underwater photographers.”

According to event organiser Brian Ring of Reefteach, one of iSimangalio’s licensed Sodwana-based dive operators, “The event went off extremely well and once again showcased not only the natural attractions of this coastal jewel, but also provided a great fun family event during the school holidays with environmental education, informative talks by marine specialists and a range of musical entertainment.”


According to iSimangaliso’s Business Director, Terri Castis, “The work of the committee, other local Sodwana Bay businesses and the Ozabeni Honorary Officers ensured that we had another successful event. We were particularly grateful to the new sponsor Nauticam that came on board this year, our marine specialists who presented excellent talks: Georgina Jones, Neville Ayliffe, Dennis King, Kerry Sink & Rose Thornycroft, and to the judges who gave their time: Hendrik Louw, Allen Walker and Barry Bey-Leveld.”

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Left to right_Bryan Haskins Nauticam (key sponsor)_ iSimangaliso Marketing and Brand Manager Lindy Duffield_ Brian Ring (Reefteach) iSimangaliso Tourism Officer Thandi Shabalala Barry Bey-Leveld Nauticam

Sincere thanks to the sponsors of the iSimangaliso Sodwana Bay Shootout 2015, who collectively sponsored over R200 000 worth of prizes as well as other contributions to the event:

Aliwal Shoal Adventure & Blue Pixel Photography, Amanda Clifford, Angela’s Safari Camp, Back 2 Basics (Ponta), Beqa Adventure Divers, Dive Action Cape Town, Dolphin Encounters, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Flexi Club, Gala-Gala Eco Resort & Blowing Bubbles Diving (Ponta), Manex Marine, Mary Bason, Natural Moments Bush Camp, Nauticam, Nemo Dive Charters, Oceanscape Sportswear, OK Jock Morrison Mbazwana, Omnico (Pty) Ltd, Pisces Dive Charters & Retreat, RAID, Reefteach Lodge, Scubapro, Sodwana Bay Lodge, Submerge, Supa-Trade Spar Mbazwana, Thule, Toad Tree Cabins, Triton Dive Charters and Lodge, WEI Volunteers, White Shark Projects and Wilderness Safaris.

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Midas blenny, Geoff Spiby, Overall Winner, iSimangaliso Sodwana Shootout powered by Nauticam 2015

and the winners are:

iSimangaliso Sodwana Shootout 2015 – Winners

Kids Entry 1st Place Roxanne Brockbank
Novice Land 3rd Place Daniel Dedekind
2nd Place Simone Combrinck
1st Place Daniel Dedekind
Novice Underwater 3rd Place Werner Croucamp
2nd Place Melene Hauman
1st Place Karina Gonzalez
Intermediate Land 3rd Place Waldt van Niekerk
2nd Place Esmeralda Joshua
1st Place Barry Coleman
Intermediate Underwater 3rd Place Chris Pienaar
2nd Place Herman Jacobs
1st Place Chris Pienaar
Advanced Land 3rd Place Not Awarded
2nd Place Not Awarded
1st Place Estienne Janse van Rensburg
Advanced Underwater 3rd Place Barbara Louw
2nd Place Eve Marshall
1st Place Geoff Spiby
Creative Herman Jacobs
Overall Winner Geoff Spiby

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