International Underwater Photographic Competition by Debbie Perrin - Reproduced from in focus 1989

It was not only the Russians and Americans who met in Malta this year. The 3rd Blue Dolphin of Malta Underwater Photographic Competition attracted competitors from Belgium, East and West Germany, France, Holland, Italy, United Kingdom and of course Malta. Although 5,000 Irish people were also visiting Malta simultaneously, their attention was focused on a football match and not underwater photography. A total of 43 competitors entered the Blue Dolphin - none from Ireland!

The competition was organised by'llie Celebration Committee in collaboration with the National Tourism Organization - Malta (NTOM) and the Federation of Underwater Activities (FAUM).

This year Malta celebrated 25 years of Independence. Ironically, 30 years ago the Chairman of the Working Committee, Paul J. Naudi, was involved with the first International Underwater Fishing Competition. Times have changed and with conservation in mind, divers visiting Malta are now encouraged to shoot fish with cameras not spearguns. Realising the increasing number of divers visiting Malta, the National Tourism Organisation have upgraded the services of the Hyperbaric Unit at St. Luke's General Hospital.

There were two parts to the Competition. The Blue Dolphin and the Mini Blue Dolphin. The Blue Dolphin is similar to BSoUP's Splash In 'On The Day' competition, only the Blue Dolphin was held over three days not one. Competitors were allowed to expose as many films as they wished but they had to enter the best five shots from each film. The Mini Blue Dolphin was open to underwater photographers who dived in the Maltese Islands during the year and submitted three of their best photographs to the FAUM.

The programme began on Wednesday evening with a reception to welcome and introduce the competitors to the organisers. This was held at the Grand Hotel Verdala. Here the rules and regulations of the competition were set out and explained.

On Thursday the competition began. Competitors were transported daily to each dive site. The first site was Filfla, a marine reserve which normally prohibits diving, fishing and sailing in the area. Special permission had been granted for the competitors to dive this site. It appeared that most of Malta's diving population had taken this one-off opportunity to dive this unique site. This might explain why the boat (which was an old mine sweeper converted into a tourist harbour cruise vessel) was fully laden with approximately 80 divers!

On Thursday evening, competitors were taken to an exhibition on Diving in Malta held at the Museum of Archaelogy in Valletta. Local school children (some who were severely handicapped) had drawn and painted their views of sea life around Malta.

The dive site for Friday was Dwejra on Gozo. Competitors had the choice of two sites, the Inland Sea or the Blue Hole. Both sites offered caverns and arches making it an ideal setting for underwater photography.

The final dive site was back on mainland Malta - Cirkewwa, just over the harbour wall. Although an unlikely site, it did prove quite interesting. On Friday and Saturday evenings slide presentations were given by various competitors. This year's On

The Day Splash-In winner, Paul Clark, gave a presentation on marine biology. Vic Verlinden of Belgium presented audio visuals, as did Italy's Vincenzo Paolillo. Avertano Role of Malta's Ministry of Environment gave an interesting talk on Malta's underwater morphology. Peter Scoones gave an impromptu and amusing talk on the differences between diving in the Med and St. Abbs.

The programme culminated on Sunday evening with a farewell dinner and prize giving ceremony. The results were announced during a 'carvery' style dinner.
A lot of hard work went into the competition and amongst the organisers Joseph Cussar (President of FAUM) and Martin Aquilina (Treasurer) were always on hand to help with any problems. At times their dilligence and patience was tested to the extreme.

It was a well organised event in which competitors from different backgrounds and cultures could come together with one passion in common. Ideas and techniques were openly discused and exchanged and many friends were made. It is a competition I would recommend BSoUP members to try. A good time was had by all except the exhausted organisers!

RESULTS

THE BLUE DOLPHIN
1st Prize - US$ 1,000 Marc de Batty (France)
2nd Prize - US$ 500 Fredric Di Miglio (France)
3rd Prize - US$ 300 Peter Scoones (United Kingdom)
MINI BLUE DOLPHIN
Winner - US$ 250 Bill Hewitt (United Kingdom)
Finalists were also presented with a glass trophy of a dolphin. Each competitor received a commemorative coin. A small trophy was presented to all those competitors who gave a talk or presented slides.