Wetpixel editor, Adam Hanlon, is currently in the charming and picturesque island of Porto Santo, Portugal. This tiny island, the northernmost and easternmost island of the archipelago of Madeira, is located in the Atlantic Ocean and is playing host the CMAS World Championship of Underwater Photography and videography.
Wetpixel editor, Adam Hanlon, is currently in the charming and picturesque island of Porto Santo, Portugal. This tiny island, the northernmost and easternmost island of the archipelago of Madeira, is located in the Atlantic Ocean and is playing host the CMAS World Championship of Underwater Photography and videography. This biannual event is now in its eighteenth year and has attracted 48 teams from 18 countries, each competing for national and individual glory.
The CMAS World Championships are perhaps under represented by many of us in the underwater imaging media. Many of the teams are selected by their national bodies and attract funding from Olympic bodies. Placing or doing well in this event ensures both national glory and individual success.
One of the reasons for its relative obscurity is the actual format of the contest. It is based on the “Photosub” style, of teams and individuals diving on specific sites and submitting images direct from the camera. Hence, the images are judged against other images taken under very similar conditions. So it is the best photographer or filmmaker on the day, rather than the photographer that have the time, money or occupation to allow for large amounts of time in exotic locations.
The diving at Porto Santo is temperate with clear blue water and excellent visibility. At the time of the contest, the water temperature is 24°C (75°F), which is the warmest it gets. The dive sites and characterised by dramatic underwater scenery with encrusted boulders and a large variety of fish and critter life.
The Portuguese government has provided funding for the deliberate sinking of rocks to provide artificial reefs and attractions for visiting divers. Porto Santo has the wreck of the NRP General Pereira d’Eça which was a corvette of the João Coutinho class. She sits in around 30m and is intact and is home to a variety of fish life, including grey triggerfish (Balistes capriscus), which are bitty like their larger relatives, although these are too small to do any significant damage!
To emphasise how seriously the competing teams take this event, many of them have been on the island for some time before the official start of the contest, carrying out training dives to figure out how to maximise the opportunities. I was fortunate to join them on a few dives to explore the diving and to see what they were up to.
Having been in “travel isolation” for the past 18 months, and hence not having dived in blue water for that period. Porto Santos clear, blue and relatively warm waters reminded me how much I have missed it! The locals all tell me that the visibility is not as good as it can be, and is improving, but given my recent diet of green water diving at home, it seems wonderful!
Travel in general is still not an easy process, with (in this case) pre-flight testing required and registration on arrival. In general, I would say that mask use in public indoor and outdoor spaces is being well adhered to, with mask wearing being the norm. There does seem to be a general willingness to put other’s health ahead of our own convenience, which does bode well for the removal of travel restrictions in the future.
The contest formally starts tomorrow, with the teams registering in the morning, followed by an opening ceremony. Adam will be reporting live daily from the event and keeping the Wetpixel community abreast of the trials and tribulations of the teams. Please keep checking back for more information as he adds to the report.
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