The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is a UK-based community and charity of ocean lovers fighting for cleaner waters. In celebration of the vibrant and diverse creatures that live in our seas, the MCS has gathered a selection of images taken by seasoned divers and photographers.
Despite the fact many of the photos are colorful captures of life underwater, our seas and oceans are fragile ecosystems in desperate need of protection and restoration. Marine habitats are at risk due to plastic pollution, rising ocean temperatures, chemical waste and oil spillages. There are initiatives such as the Big Ocean Clear Up that are trying to make that are trying to improve these eco-systems but more needs to be done.
While the best underwater drones are coming into their own, scuba divers and snorkellers are key to conducting underwater surveys that provide an insight into the state of the seas in the UK. While many of the Seasearch volunteers are recreational divers and snorkellers, working in association with the MSC is a fantastic way of giving back to an environment that brings so much joy.
One of the photos included in the collection shows a catshark (below) taken by Sam Mansfield. "As a kid on the coast, I’d look for curious leather ‘mermaid purses’ (shark egg cases) washed up along the shoreline," he recalls. "Snorkeling off Cornwall last year, I was ascending from the kelp as the sun dipped toward the horizon and was taken by sunrise as this shark brushed past me in the shallows. With the last of my breath, I grabbed a picture and watched its life into the green."
If you live in the south west of England, chances are you’ve seen the shell or a leg of a spider crab washed up on the shore. But you've probably never caught two of them fighting, as Martin Stevens did while snorkeling in Cornwall (top image). Martin spotted the two spider crabs crawling along the shallows just as they jumped at each other and began to fight. Luckily he had his camera to hand and managed to capture the action before the crabs scurried off.
Perhaps one of the most surprising images was taken by snorkeler and photographer Peter Shucksmith, who captured a humpback whale off the coast of Shetland, Scotland. "I heard a blow and lifted my head to see the back one of the whales that were heading towards me," he said. "Putting my eye back to the camera, two large shadows appeared at the periphery of my vision and suddenly they were right in front of me."
If you feel inspired to take up snorkeling, give scuba diving a go or even just get back out with your camera, you might be able to help the Marine Conservation Society in a number of ways. If you’re passionate about clean seas and beaches, check out the MCS website or its dedicated Seasearch page to find out how you can get involved.