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Nature / Noss gannet photos net big acclaim in ocean photography awards

Henley Spiers' photo of gannets diving at Noss, which came runner up in the main ocean photographer of the year award.

TWO eye-catching images taken in Shetland earlier this year which are striking for different reasons have been honoured in a national celebration of ocean photography.

Henley Spiers’ underwater photo of gannets diving off Noss came second in the main prize of the Ocean Photography Awards.

Spiers said watching the birds dive into the water was “simply breathtaking”.

Another photo he took whilst on his trip to Shetland was also commended in the conservation category of the awards.

It captured a gannet lying dead as it hung from a piece of discarded fishing gear on Noss.

“Although it’s only in its second year, the Ocean Photography Awards has quickly become one of the most prestigious collections of ocean imagery, so I am delighted to have been part of it for the last two years,” Spiers told Shetland News.

A far more sombre take on gannets at Noss, with a bird pictured lying dead caught in fishing gear. Photo: Henley Spiers

“The awarded images show both the best and the worst of the northern gannets, and it’s sad to see the human hand in the suffering which can occur through gannets using discarded fishing line for nesting.”

Spiers added that the Covid pandemic has presented a lot of challenges in his job as an underwater and nature photographer, as much of his work has been international.

“Discovering the incredible wildlife, nature and people of Shetland has been one of the great silver linings,” he added.

“In fact, I am so inspired by Shetland that it has now become a permanent part of my annual photography projects. I look forward to returning in 2022 and will admit that I often daydream of moving to Shetland.”

Spiers also gave his thanks to Richard Shucksmith and the team at Shetland Seabird Tours for putting him in the “right place at the right time” for the photos.

Meanwhile local underwater photographer Billy Arthur has been shortlisted for a prize at the Close-Up Photographer of the Year awards.