So much of ocean life still remains obscure or entirely unknown for most people, even those spending their occasional vacation next to the sea.

But put your head under the water's surface and you discover wonderous creatures that attract your curiosity and, sometimes, your appetite.

This is particularly so in tropical waters, teaming with life, at least when they are protected and not yet affected by coral bleaching.

 

The HUGYCUP is an international underwater photo and video competition celebrating marine life. It had its sixth edition this year.

Organised by Danny van Belle, who himself won several international awards for his underwater photography and videography, this year's contest took place in Puerto Galeras at the Asia Divers Resort of Allan Nash in the Philippines.

Participants were able to compete in several technical categories for the beauty of the taking pictures of the most intriguing animals and for attractive prizes.

The award ceremony was celebrated on 26 September 2015 near Ghent.

The full house of some 180 guests was first treated to a delicious Breughel dinner pleasing the palates with several courses.

Danny was the master of ceremony throughout the event contributing much to the jovial and festive atmosphere.

With the physical needs satisfied, it was time to recognise and honour the winners.

Prizes for the different technical categories were already on display contributing to the sense of anticipation.

Creative cups with sculptured marine animals were combined with money prizes, stays in dive resorts, diving gear or camera equipment and dive magazines.

The combinations were a nice mixture of art, knowledge and practicalities.

 

The vivid chatter along the long dinner tables gave way to curious silence as the master of ceremony started to introduce the international jury and heightened the anticipation for the beautiful and amazing sights to come.

 

Starting out with compact camera competitions, the feast for the eyes started in earnest.

Projected on the big screen the pictures showed the dazzling beauty of marine animals in macro, portrait and wide angle perspectives.

 

The contest also covered portfolio of compact camera pictures and the best photographer with that type of equipment.

Here the overall winner was Gareth Bowen, a dive and photography enthusiast from London.

See more stunning photos on the HUGYCUP website

The same categories were in contest for “full gear photography” further enlarged to photos of nudibranches and seashells.

The public had an excellent time watching the most highly ranked photos. As the photos were all taken on the same dive grounds, the craftmanship of chosing the most attractive or unusual angle to bring out the characteristics of the marine life was visible.

Mundus maris proudly sponsored the wide angle prize this year. It was won by Luc Eeckhaut, who was also the overall winner of the HUGYCUP 2014/15. Congratulations!

The crowning of the award ceremony was the projection of the winning video narrating the story of the place, the friendship among the divers and the awesome underwater world.The winner was Filip Wachters. See all winning entries on the HUGYCUP website

Congratulations to all participants and thanks for a memorable evening.

Let's hope that sharing the pictures of the beautiful marine animals in Puerto Galeras (see also below) entices ever more people to join forces in protecting the ocean and help restore its former bounty of life.

 

1stPlaceCompactPortfolio1GarethBowen.jpg1stPlaceCompactPortfolio2GarethBowen.jpg1stPlaceCompactPortfolio3GarethBowen.jpg1stPlaceNUDI-FilipStaes.jpg2ndPlace8PortfolioHarryKlerks.jpg2ndPlaceExAequoCompactPortfolio1DirkCrutelle.jpg2ndPlaceExAequoCompactPortfolio1MalcolmHammer1.jpg2ndPlaceNUDI-BethWatson.jpg3rdPlaceCompactPortraitRonnyImpens.jpg