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Friday, August 12, 2022

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Picture a beautiful ocean world

Images of a world unseen by many are vital to help people understand the importance of conservation of the “safari parks of the sea”. In the lead-up to Marine Protected Areas Day, people are invited to enter creative competitions to help spread the message. Picture: Steve Benjamin

Images of a world unseen by many are vital to help people understand the importance of conservation of the “safari parks of the sea”. In the lead-up to Marine Protected Areas Day, people are invited to enter creative competitions to help spread the message. Picture: Steve Benjamin

Published Jul 2, 2022

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The second Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Day on August 1 is set to go global this year and, to celebrate, organisers have announced some creative competitions in the lead-up.

“There has been a definite shift these past few years as communities around the world become more aware of the importance of ocean conservation for the survival of our planet, with environmental days such as World Ocean Day and MPA Day playing a role in raising awareness,” said Dr Judy Mann, executive of strategic projects at The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation.

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“We want to have an even greater impact with our second annual celebration, which is why we’ve launched some great competitions to create awareness about the need to protect our ‘game reserves of the sea’.”

Steve Benjamin

Renowned South African conservationist and award-winning photographer and videographer Steve Benjamin is one example of how the depths of the ocean can be brought to life through the lens. Through his passion for the ocean and marine life, he has connected with leading international film-makers and photographers.

Having learnt his art on the KZN South Coast MPA Aliwal Shoal, Benjamin went on to assist on shoots with international photographer Thomas Peschak for “National Geographic Magazine” in the Seychelles, Mexico, Peru and the Galapagos. He also joined the team that would bring the sardine run to life for a BBC film series “Nature’s Great Events” and the BBC’s “Blue Planet II” series.

A humpback whale breaches, a sight few people will see. Images like this are vital to help people understand the importance of conservation of the “safari parks of the sea”. In the lead-up to Marine Protected Areas Day, people are invited to enter creative competitions to help spread the message. Picture: Steve Benjamin

“Photography is the face of any conservation initiative – without good imagery depicting what it is that people are trying to save, nobody will know about it,” said Benjamin. “The public reacts better to good visual imagery, it’s the best way to get the masses engaged with the topic.”

He said people needed images of places they couldn’t necessarily access themselves: “The majority of people won’t get the chance to dive or experience these areas first-hand.”

Benjamin’s tips for aspiring nature photographers:

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  1. Get some basic equipment – even cellphones can be used to create incredible visuals.
  2. Make connections with experienced individuals and learn from them. A good mentor is valuable.
  3. Look critically at the films and videos you like ‒ question why you like it and analyse how the story unfolds. It’s the story that engages the viewer.
  4. Get competent at social media and put out as much content as possible. Practice makes perfect!
  5. Never give up – it’s a long game and you have to keep trying.

MPA Photo Competition

Professional and amateur photographers can put these tips into practice and enter the 2022 MPA Photo Competition to highlight the 41 South African Marine Protected Areas. The aim of the competition is to showcase the beauty and allure of MPAs as places for people to discover, relax, earn a living and respect.

The photographs entered may depict anything above or below the water within a South African MPA. This could include ocean creatures and plants, captivating scenery, sports or recreational events, as well as tourism and research conducted within these safe spaces. There are a number of great prizes, ranging from merchandise to nature-based experiences, worth thousands of rand.

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To enter

  • Indicate whether you’re a professional or novice photographer.
  • Photo size is limited to 3MB and 1920 x 1080 pixels.
  • Entries are limited to 5 photos per photographer.
  • All images must be named with the photo entry number, your name, and the MPA name (e.g.: 1johndoeDeHoopMPA).
  • If you would like to be tagged on Instagram, include your Instagram handle.
  • Send entries or get more information at [email protected]

MPA Day Youth Competition

This creative competition aims to create more awareness of South Africa’s MPAs among the country’s youth. It’s open to anyone aged 11 to 18 years and is divided into Art, Creative Writing and the Photo/Video categories. There’s a junior division (ages 11 to 14) and a senior division (ages 15 to 18).

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  • You may submit one piece per category ‒ Art, Creative Writing or Photo/Video ‒ so a maximum of 3 entries per person.
  • Include the category, your age and your name.
  • All entries must include contact information for a guardian, parent or teacher.
  • Send entries or get more information at [email protected] or via the website

The Independent on Saturday

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