Nature / Shots from above and below Shetland’s waters recognised in national wildlife photography awards

A LOCAL drone specialist has been highly commended in this year’s British Wildlife Photography Awards – while some other photos taken in Shetland were also recognised.

Nick McCaffrey’s Wildlife of Shetland clip, which can be viewed above, was selected in the video section of the awards.

Meanwhile Henley Spiers, an award-winning underwater photographer who has often visited Shetland, enjoyed success with three images taken in the isles.

For McCaffrey it marks a significant past week, after footage he captured of orcas was aired on BBC One on Sunday as part of the new David Attenborough series Wild Isles.

He said he was “incredibly proud” to have work recognised in the British Wildlife Photography Awards.

His submission featured shots from above of a variety of marine animals.

“I really wasn’t expecting anything from my submission,” McCaffrey said.

“I’ve never put something like this together to be judged so it was new ground for me and quite intimidating given the prestige of the British Wildlife Photography Awards and the calibre of entry you can expect.


“I’m also proud to be able to showcase my home and the incredible wildlife and landscapes we all get to enjoy here. 

“I’m also grateful to all my friend’s family and the Shetland community for helping me capture the scenes that went into my submission.

“Without their help I wouldn’t have managed to capture anything like quantity the material that went into my short film.”

Meanwhile Henley Spiers, from Devon, won the coast and marine category for his striking photo of jellyfish and plankton taken underwater in Shetland.

Henley Spiers’ award-winning Welcome to the Zoo(plankton) image.

He also had two other images highly commended.

The photographer said two were captured on the same three-hour ‘midnight snorkel’.

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“It probably seems crazy but having seen an unusually large amount of plankton during a three-hour afternoon snorkel, I resolved to return at night with a macro lens.

“What followed was one for the most spell-binding aquatic experiences of my life, although by the end of it I was so cold I could barely take off my fins before trudging back to bed.”

One of those two, a striking image called Welcome to the Zoo(plankton), won the coast and marine category.

Speaking about the photo, Spiers said: “One night in Shetland, I came face to face with plankton on a scale unlike anything I have experienced before, snorkelling amidst a plankton bloom so thick that at times I am unable to see through it.

“To the naked eye, it looks like a million peach coloured spheres, as if the contents of a bean bag had spilt over the sea, but my macro lens reveals a mass of tiny organisms.


“Plankton takes two forms: the first is phytoplankton, which is made up of plants and forms the base of the food chain, zooplankton, which is made up of animals, sits on the next rung up.

“I am in the midst of the zoo here – a rich tapestry of tiny animals pulsating all around. Some are too microscopic to recognise, but others I can discern: larval stage crustaceans abound, some of them swimming through the darkness, others clinging to the life rafts offered by broken-off seaweed.

“This plankton soup has attracted an army of jellyfish, who feast upon the buffet of miniature life.”

Satellite of Life was also taken by Henley Spiers in Shetland.
Henley Spiers’ gannet photo, taken in Shetland, was also highly commended.

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