Category: Photography

 

We are delighted to announce that we have yet again won an award, this time in the Travel & Hospitality Awards 2024……more coming soon with a press release. THANK YOU!!

 

 

 

 

“Not what we were expecting when we woke up yesterday morning……A BELUGA !!! a high Arctic marine mammal in the sub-zero winter wonderland Shetland is currently experiencing, to get to the site was hard enough, but worth every freezing moment for a once in a lifetime wildlife sighting”

A stunning ivory white BELUGA whale was spotted off West Ayre in Hillswick yesterday morning by Margaret and Jeff Tungatt who contacted the admin of the local Cetacean WhatsApp page with the sighting, then made public mid-morning. Phil, Ayda (8) & I tried to head out north but the weather with pure arctic conditions, thick snow & drift made our plans impossible & we turned back. However around 1pm, the weather improved & we again set of north in our 4×4. We made a diversion to pick up good friend & ace cameraman & drone photographer Richard Shucksmith & made it to West Ayre, Hillswick about an hour before dark. The sea was very dark & skies ominous as we scanned the bay, & almost immediately picked up the incredible sight of a ghostly ivory white large BELUGA, regularly surfacing & clearly visible at distance contrasting against the dark water. The large, active animal appeared healthy, feeding & regularly diving for a few minutes at a time, we could even follow it’s white shape below the surface. Beluga apparently feed on various fish species as well as crabs, octopus, squid & snails & this one could be seen up-ending to feed on a couple of occasions.

Richard captured breath-taking drone footage of this rare Arctic & Sub-Arctic marine mammal (seriously doesn’t get better than that please check it out!! LINK here: https://fb.watch/pEVp-PJU8G/ & it was hugely exciting for all four of us to not only watch the animal surfacing & see it’s iconic ‘melon-head’ shape & beautiful tail shape at distance, but also enjoy it ‘live’ via Richard’s drone camera. I got some distant record shots & a nice little video which serves as a perfect memory of Shetland’s 6th BELUGA. It was a very special moment for all of us at Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat, & one we will remember for years to come. Rebecca has previously seen Beluga in Spitsbergen whilst guiding there is 2012 but it was a world cetacean tick for everyone else. It is still present today 18th January 2024 & we hope if the weather improves many others will get to enjoy seeing they spectacular, iconic Arctic species as the weather improves. It is difficult to know exactly why the Beluga is here in Shetland waters, along with the 5 other Beluga records, we have also had Bearded Seals & Walrus on the Isles of the the last few years. These are all high arctic species & we must consider that these rare but increasing sightings are highly likely the result of climate change & the aptly named climate catastrophe we are faced with today. The strong northerly storms & arctic weather front we have been experiencing of late, may also have caused the Hillswick Beluga to have become disorientated & separated from it’s pod, & of course although it looks healthy, we never really know if there are more serious individual, internal health issues at play. We hope it will feed well whilst here & be able to make it’s way back further north as soon as possible.

ON THE BELOW LINK FOR OUR VIDEO OF THE BELUGA SURFACING OFF HILLSWICK.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/C2N-dtCxOoY/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link&igsh=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==

 

Loch Ness Monster or …… A BELUGA!
BELUGA BAY – West Ayre Bay, Hillswick.

 

Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat – November article.

This month we celebrate the 200th issue of I’I shetland!! 🎉

“In recognition of this milestone, we have selected stories subjectively from each year since its launch in 2006! We hope you enjoy our selection, remembering those occasions along with us, as well as celebrating your community in print. We thank all our advertisers, reads and contributors that make i’i Shetland special and Shetland’s monthly magazine.” 💛

“Other features this month include The Accordion & Fiddle Festival, Shetland Jewellery ‘Shining Bright’, Bruce Williamson, Shetland Swing performance, Elizabeth Atia’s latest recipe, Shetland Wildlife with Rebecca Nason, i’i Kids for the peerie ones, your photography in Readers Pics and much more! Pick up your copy today!” i’i Shetland, Nov’23

 

 

Why not give you’re loved ones a very special Christmas present this year, with a boat tour with seasoned professionals to enjoy one of Europe’s finest wildlife spectacles – the sight, smell & sound of over 25,000 northern gannets & a wealth of other seabirds & marine life around the towering Noss cliffs & around Bressay. Whether you are already on Shetland or planning a holiday here – make sure you add this exciting, popular, top Shetland visitor attraction to your visit today ……… Merry Christmas!

 

 

Call – email or text us today to order a NOSS BOAT gift vouchers for Christmas!

 

Shetland in spring.
25/05/2023
Rebecca Nason/SHETLAND SEABIRD TOURS – THE NOSS BOAT
Shetland in autumn is a special place for local and visiting birders. It is undeniably the place to be, sharing its gold status only with the warmer, comparatively tropical and long-established destination of the Isles of Scilly, in the extreme south-west of Britain (see Birdwatch 351: 42-44). But Shetland is now on every birder’s radar as the leaves curl brown, and exciting, volatile weather systems start to form.

Shetland’s ‘mega’ status in autumn has developed over the years due it to producing unparalleled extreme vagrants, from both Siberia and North America. Being a string of more than 100 small islands isolated in the North Sea, it is the perfect location to host off-course, lost vagrants and create a hotbed of excitement for anyone out looking for them. Of course, the islands are also landfall for more expected common and scarce autumn migrants, often in large numbers, moving to warmer climes and more accessible food sources further south, away from the harsh northern winters.

The number of birders visiting Shetland in autumn has never been higher – partly because of its illustrious recent birding history, which serves as a magnet for teams to undertake annual pilgrimages north, but also as a welcome movement for more ‘local’ travel over long-haul destinations with the climate crisis firmly on our minds. There was also the knock-on effect of more enforced localised travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, whether through restrictions in travel, logistical difficulties or a new-found sense of enjoyment, with what’s on our doorsteps with ‘staycations’ favoured over foreign birding. Shetland has never seemed more appealing as a get-away destination for those wanting to enjoy some quality autumn birding. But it shouldn’t only be synonymous with autumn. Perhaps not as widely known about is that we do spring here, too – and it can be rather more spectacular than you might imagine!


A classic Shetland scene: a Puffin, with sandeel snack, sits pretty against the looming backdrop of the cliffs of Hermaness. Late spring and early summer can be brilliant for producing rare migrants across the isles, with the added bonus of thousands of breeding seabirds to marvel at (Rebecca Nason).

If you think you know Shetland from your previous autumn visits, think again – experiencing the islands in spring is a world away from the ‘fifty shades of brown’ you might be used to. The whole ‘feel’, as well as climate, are different, making it seem like a totally separate destination and experience. From May onwards, the islands are an explosion of colour, of seabirds, of waders and – of course – exciting migrants to keep all who visit on their toes and with hands firmly on the binoculars.

Seabird Central

More than a million seabirds call Shetland home in the relatively short summer season. The islands become a raucous hive of activity with 22 breeding seabird species, 18 of which are found in internationally important numbers. Shetland’s vast coastline and rich, highly productive waters create the perfect breeding grounds and a wildlife spectacle hard to beat in Europe, if not the world.

May is the month that seabirds return in big numbers and when breeding activity starts in earnest, reaching fever pitch into June. The cliffs burst into colour, with pink Thrift and blue hues of Spring Squill lightly swaying on the warm sea air. There are few stretches of coastline without Northern Fulmars cackling as they enjoy the air currents, and several hot-spots will see you eye-to-eye with Puffin, Razorbill, Guillemot, Kittiwake, Arctic Tern, Great and Arctic Skuas, plus the resident Black Guillemot.

The majority of seabirds have, as elsewhere in the UK, suffered declines in recent years, in part at least due to the lack of sandeels, on which many depend. Conversely, Northern Gannet and Great Skua numbers have increased across the isles, due to a less restrictive diet and ability to adapt in the face of increasingly fast environmental changes. Shetland still remains a stronghold for many seabirds and these form at the very least a background highlight for any birder’s spring trip.


Common Snipe is a common and familiar breeder across Shetland, with noisy birds displaying from fence posts (Rebecca Nason).

The biggest seabird colonies are found on Fair Isle, Foula, Hermaness on Unst, and Noss, which is off Bressay; the last two are home to huge and increasing Northern Gannet colonies set in breathtaking scenery. There are ample opportunities to enjoy seabirds at close quarters both as a birder and photographer in Shetland, not least by taking a walk up to the heady cliffs at Hermaness, where you will be greeted en route by Great Skuas and arrive to an amphitheatre of gannets and Puffins in spectacular surroundings.

As an alternative, taking the Noss Boat tours from Lerwick to experience more than 25,000 gannets from sea level, nesting on towering weathered sandstone cliffs and rocket-diving for fish around the boat, is hard to beat. The 2,000-year-old Mousa Broch monument is alive with European Storm Petrels at night during the summer months, most arriving back in May, and an evening Mousa Island boat trip is a special experience not to be missed.

For those seeking the most photographed seabird in the world, Puffin, then Sumburgh Head is the best location, being a firm favourite site with locals and visitors alike thanks to the added bonus of a lighthouse, marine exhibition centre and café – and it can be a great place to find rarities!

 

Abundant waders

Away from the coast in spring, the moorlands and globally important blanket peat bogs take on attractive mauve tones, broken by swathes of Cottongrass and damp flushes. These wonderful northern habitats, and the historically less-intensively managed croft lands, are home to a wealth of breeding shorebirds.


A trip to Shetland in late spring and early summer should produce the delightful Red-necked Phalarope, which breeds in small numbers across the archipelago (Rebecca Nason).

You cannot fail to notice the sheer number of waders between May and the end of July. The densities are a reminder of what other parts of Britain were once like before widespread post-war agricultural intensification. Thirteen species nest in total, often in an abundance hard to match in other parts of Britain – 11 are found in internationally important numbers.

Common Snipe is a regular sight and evocative sound of a Shetland spring, from bold strategical fence-post podiums to the drumming vibrations filling the wide skies alongside displaying Northern Lapwing, Common Redshank, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Eurasian Curlew. Other moorland and peat bog sites, particularly in the outer islands, provide favourable habitats for breeding Dunlin and European Golden Plover, as well as forming the nesting grounds for more than 95% of the British population of Whimbrel. Ringed Plovers enjoy a plethora of undisturbed beaches and Common Sandpipers bob along stream fringes. Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit are rarer breeders, with neither confirmed annually.

Red-necked Phalarope is an iconic feature of the isles that returns from wintering grounds along the west coast of South America in May, with the highest densities on Fetlar. A visit to Shetland in spring is surely not complete without a visit to see these stunning waders. If you are lucky, you may come across phalaropes at other sites in the isles, particularly on ‘feeding lochs’ as they make their journey back to Fetlar and other isolated breeding localities. The RSPB has been highly successful recently in improving targeted habitat management for these birds at key sites, particularly at its flagship Fetlar reserve.

On the multitude of lochs across the isles, two other rare breeders are quite easily encountered. Red-throated Diver is perhaps the most enigmatic Shetland breeding species in summer, with many paired up on lochs by late May or commonly seen fishing offshore. Whooper Swans also nest in small numbers.


Northern Gannet is one seabird species that is thriving in Shetland, with particularly impressive colonies on Unst and Noss. Boat trips give brilliant opportunities to see them up close (Rebecca Nason).

So, with a backdrop of frenetic breeding-bird activity across the isles, visiting birders in spring and early summer will have plenty to occupy themselves when migration is slow or winds are unfavourable. With so many birders taking to photography these days, there is a bounty of opportunity at every turn. Another big plus in spring is the light, with very long daylight hours when compared to the frustratingly short days of autumn. Light combines with more settled weather to provide a real advantage – even doubling field birding hours compared to the autumn. You can bird until teatime and well beyond!

Migration Season

What can you expect with spring migration across the isles? Movement starts in March, though only really picks up from the beginning of May onwards – spring is much later here in the far north of Britain. It’s also worth noting that there are smaller numbers of birds than in autumn, when many youngsters will be making their way south for the first time. However, the birds you do see have the added glamour of being in fine breeding plumage. Many will also show incredibly well, with limited vegetation cover and disturbance, meaning plenty of spring highlights can be enjoyed at close range and without the crowds.

On top of a host of common migrants, classic scarce overshoots by mid-May (given suitable weather conditions) could include Red-backed Shrike Bluethroat, Wryneck and Common Rosefinch, with regular visitors such as Rustic Bunting, Thrush Nightingale, subalpine warblers and Marsh and Icterine Warblers all tending to be much more regular here than anywhere else in Britain.

Spring Blyth’s Reed Warbler records have notably increased in recent years, too. Other scarce or rare migrants typical of this time may include Red-rumped Swallow, Hoopoe, Golden Oriole, European Nightjar, European Bee-eater, Woodchat Shrike, Citrine Wagtail and Paddyfield Warbler. Interestingly, the mega-rare Green Warbler has now been recorded five times in Shetland in spring or early summer out of a total of just eight national records.


A colourful array of typical late spring and early summer scarcities that may be found in Shetland include Red-backed Shrike (top) and Common Rosefinch (James Hanlon / Helen Perry).

The majority of Shetland’s scarce and rare spring birds are found after periods of south-easterly winds. Even light winds will bring in migrants, either propelled north from southern Europe or pushed west as they head for Scandinavia. But there are also increasingly regular records of American vagrants making landfall in Shetland in spring, just to add to the honeypot of possibilities!

Then there are the ‘big’ birds – the extreme vagrants that visitors may dream of. History tells us that they happen here with regularity. Who can forget the Pallas’s Sandgrouse at Quendale in May 1990 – a bird that was widely twitched from the mainland. Another very popular bird was the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater in June 1997, with other standout finds from various points of the compass including Caspian Plover at Skelberry on 3-4 June 1996, Rose-breasted Grosbeak at West Burra on 3-4 May 2016 and Black-and-white Warbler at Aithsetter in late May 2020.

Of course, Fair Isle and its constant coverage stands head and shoulders above the rest, boasting an unforgettable list of extreme vagrants in May that includes Brown-headed Cowbird, Thick-billed Warbler, Song Sparrow and White-throated Sparrows, multiple Calandra Larks and Collared Flycatchers, and Steller’s Eider. Migrants keep appearing well into June, with later highlights having included Cretzschmar’s Bunting, Hermit Thrush, Myrtle Warbler, Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and the famous Citril Finch of June 2008.

Spring birding days can be fabulously varied and frequently brilliant across the isles. The quotes below are surely enough reason to get the pulses racing and a spring trip to Shetland firmly on the staycation radar.

Rob Fray wrote in the Shetland Bird Report 2018: “All of this was a prelude to possibly the most remarkable 24-hour period in the long history of Shetland birding: late afternoon on 14 May produced Shetland’s first Marmora’s Warbler at Baliasta, Unst, a Black-faced Bunting nearby at Norwick, and Shetland’s first Eurasian Crag Martin on Fair Isle. By mid-afternoon on 15th a Song Sparrow on Fair Isle, a Terek Sandpiper at Virkie and European Bee-eater at Sandwick had been added to the roll-call (along with ‘also-rans’ such as a Garganey at Melby and the first of spring’s six Red-breasted Flycatchers at Sumburgh Head).”


Shetland has a long and enviable list of mega rarities that have appeared in late spring. Among them are these two gems from Fair Isle: June 2008’s Citril Finch (top), which was a first for Britain, and a Thick-billed Warbler in mid-May 2003, which the long daylight hours allowed for a twitch from the mainland on its first day (Rebecca Nason).

An extract from The Birds of Shetland: “Potentially one of the most exciting months of the year is May. A fall in May can be a colourful event, and it is all the more enjoyable as it is likely to occur in bright sunshine. Alongside the duller Tree Pipits, Garden Warblers, Willow Warblers and Spotted Flycatchers may be resplendent male Common Redstarts, Whinchats and Pied Flycatchers, or classic Shetland migrants such as subtly plumaged Wrynecks, bandit-masked Red-backed Shrikes and stunning male Bluethroats of the red-spotted form.

“Some extremely unusual birds have been found in early May, including three Dark-eyed Juncos, and Shetland’s only Black Stork and Marsh Sandpiper. But in the second half of the month, almost anything can turn up – American Kestrel, Common Yellowthroat, Myrtle Warbler or White-crowned Sparrow from North America, Black-winged Pratincole, Calandra Lark or Little Swift from southern Europe or south-west Asia, or even White-throated Needletail from Asia.”

It goes on to cite June as “an excellent month for extremely rare vagrants”, before naming Lesser Kestrel, Bimaculated Lark and Cedar Waxwing on an enviable and mouth-watering list of possibilities.

So, why not give Shetland a go in spring? There’s plenty of breeding birds to see at this vibrant time of year. Plus, if you’re in the right place at the right time, and with the right weather, who knows what you might find!

 

  • This article was published in the June 2022 issue of Birdwatch.


GREEN TOURISM AWARD  – SILVER – SHETLAND SEABIRD TOURS – THE NOSS BOAT

“Shetland Seabird Tours have done a fantastic job in achieving the Green Tourism Silver Award following on from their first GreenCheck Assessment. The team have displayed an excellent understanding of sustainability as well as an awareness of the opportunities and challenges associated with running a responsible business. Shetland Seabird Tours have performed particularly strongly in the Biodiversity, Chemicals, Community, Experiences, and Water goals during this assessment. The team have shown a strong commitment to continual improvement, a willingness to implement change where required, and dedication in the pursuit of sustainable best practices. A hearty congratulations to the team on their efforts and achievement in this assessment. Shetland Seabird Tours will undoubtedly continue to make progress in the Green Tourism programme as they continue their sustainability journey” Green Tourism 

What achieving our Green Tourism award means:

We are supported in our sustainability practices, and in our improvement journey by the world-leading sustainability accreditation partner, Green Tourism. 

Achieving a Green Tourism award means that our sustainability practices have been assessed and verified by a credible partner. It shows that we have an ongoing commitment:

  • to sustainability standards and practices
  • to work responsibly, ethically, and sustainably
  • to contribute to our community
  • to reduce our impact on the environment, and
  • to be accessible and inclusive to all visitors and staff.

Green Tourism has assessed our business against 15 sustainability criteria grouped under the pillars of People, Places and Planet. These consider the social, economic, and environmental actions we undertake, providing a holistic assessment of our sustainability performance. To ensure that our cliental/passengers understand our sustainability commitment, we have been assessed by Green Tourism to validate our practice. This independent assessment brings reassurance that our practice is evidenced and authenticated. We are proud to have been awarded a Silver award in our 6th February 2023 assessment.

Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat – Highlights 

Green Tourism also helped us to highlight our areas of sustainability strength. At our 1st assessment our sustainability highlights included: Biodiversity, Chemicals, Community, Experiences & Water.

We have been working hard across the business for a few years to reduce our impact on the planet after a challenging time during covid, where we were able to stop, reassess our business & our future & re-evaluate our goals & directions. We were already committed to the environment as passionate ornithologists, naturalists, & conservationists, but time reflecting during the 2020 lockdown, for a business 100% tourism reliant, gave our business the opportunity to further cement our branding, environmental ethos & future direction & to further improve our commitments to the environment & sustainability. We now have an exciting action plan in place through Green Tourism, & continue to improve on our green commitments & look forward to growing as one of the first “green” tourism businesses in Shetland. A Silver Award allows prospective passengers to immediately identify us as a business that places great value the environment & strives honestly & seriously, to reducing our impact upon it. Another small step in the right direction…… 

GREEN TOURISM are a world-leading sustainable tourism accreditation, which means we are in ‘good company’ with some of the world’s largest brands in hospitality & tourism.

 Thanks to all at Green Tourism – we really valued the input & support given by the team to help us through the assessment process. 

THANK YOU

REBECCA & PHIL  Feb’23

 

 



 

 

 

Best Days with Shetland’s Birds

£17.99       PAPERBACK EDITION

£26.99      HARDBACK EDITION

Spanning decades as well as the seasons, thirty well known figures of the local bird scene share what Shetland’s birds mean to them and recount their best days.

Edited by Andrew Harrop and Rebecca Nason

“I love the format of this book because it shares those moments of passion and excitement. This is no dry examination of facts or statistics. It helps us to understand the joy to be found in the natural world. These are the stories told and retold, while sheltering inside during westerly gales and horizontal rain. They’re much more interesting than bird name scrabble!

Fair Isle, and later the rest of Shetland, taught me that nature is an intrinsic part of landscape. To fall in love with a place, without an understanding of the wildlife inhabiting or visiting it, is a limited kind of affection. The accounts of very special birding days give us a real and wider sense of these beautiful islands.”   Ann Cleeves

134 pages        240 x 165m.      High Quality Colour Photographic illustrations & Artwork

We have been delighted with the response to our new book which was launched this Spring. There reviews & sales have been excellent & we are thrilled to have accomplished such a Shetland birding community orientated publication giving special, personal insights into birding experiences whilst living on the Isles over the years, from delighting in common birds to the rarer, there is something for everyone in this bird lovers collection…….

Thank you to co-editor Andrew Harrop for inviting me to work with him on this, and to The Shetland Times for publishing it. Thanks also to our friend Ann Cleeves for her foreword & both Howard Towll & Paul Bloomer for their art work contributions……just beautiful! We are delighted to see SHETLAND SEABIRD TOURS – THE NOSS BOAT mentioned in several accounts as well as being illustrated within, and a super account by co-owner, ornithologist & skipper Phil Harris. Both of us love being part of the Shetland birding community and this was a fun, unique way of engaging both with many contributing Shetland birding friends and promoting our birding tales and experiences to a wider audience outside of Shetland.

https://britishbirds.co.uk/content/best-days-shetland’s-birds

Here is an extract from the latest British Birds journal with a thorough review by Andy Stoddart:

“Working with a large number of contributors can be like herding cats but the editors have done a splendid job of regularising the English and producing an internally consistent set of texts. Editorial comments follow some of the accounts to add additional content and/or useful context. The editors seem to have successfully navigated the mires of birdwatching politics and produced something with a genuine community feel. Indeed, there is a very welcome effort to ensure a diversity of contributions and perspectives, such as those of the recently founded Shetland LadyBirders.

The layout is pleasing, with some fine photographs and artwork, mostly by the contributors themselves, and there are some truly iconic images, from a 1967 Dennis Coutts’ Fetlar Snowy Owl Bubo scandiacus to Rebecca Nason’s 2004 Fair Isle Rufous-tailed Robin Larvivora sibilans. The cover is a delightful and playful print by Howard Towll of auks hanging in the wind below Sumburgh lighthouse (and did I notice a Brünnich’s Guillemot Uria lomvia hiding in plain sight?).

We are a storytelling species, and birdwatchers are no different. This book is a wonderful celebration of place and a contribution to our collective folklore. It is a highly recommended companion for a dark winter’s evening:

Andy Stoddart

We have a super little review in the July Issue of BIRDWATCH magazine too…..

 

Thanks also to Shetland-based blogger Laurie & Blackpool birder Stephen for their personal reviews on their blogs………

https://www.shetlandwithlaurie.com/the-blog/book-reviews-best-days-with-shetlands-birds-and-shetland-puffin#/

 

https://natural-selection.uk/2022/06/13/review-best-days-with-shetlands-birds/

 

You can purchase our book from the Shetland Times who published it & were a pleasure to work with.  Hardback and paperback available here via the link:

https://shop.shetlandtimes.co.uk/products/best-days-with-shetlands-birds-1

www.henleyspiers.com

Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat, are delighted to see the photographic side of our business develop so well over the last few years alongside our regular, popular scheduled tours. Since we started our boat tours back in 2016, we have collaborated & enjoyed working with some amazing names in the photographic and film industry, honing out skills to be able to offer a professional, knowledgeable boat platform to help others achieve outstanding results. We have regularly collaborated with the incredible underwater photographer, ecologist and Shetland resident Richard Shucksmith who has brought some outstanding photographers aboard bespoke workshops and tours all catering for different styles and requirements from amateur to professional. In our first of many showcase posts, our first highlights the latest photographic successes of the awesome Henley Spiers, who we welcomed aboard last year for the first time and who will be joining us again in 2022. Henley recently won 1st and 3rd places in the UPY 2021 British Waters Wide Angle category, see below. Henley has also written a fabulous illustrated article on his Shetland experiences last year in this months COAST magazine.

Gannet Success: 

With the @upycontest results just released and now whizzing their way across news outlets worldwide (no joke), I’m glad to report that a couple of my frames made the final collection. Not having left British waters in 2021, it’s great to see a couple of my favourite marine moments appreciated by the judges, picking up 1st and 3rd place in the British Waters Wide Angle category.

The category winner is entitled ‘Gannet Storm’ and as an extra bonus it’s also the cover shot for the UPY 2022 Yearbook:

“A northern gannet swims in an artistic hail of bubbles created by diving seabirds. 40,000 gannets visit the nearby cliffs annually to lay and care for a single egg, fishing for food nearby. Hitting the frigid water faster than an Olympic diver, these incredible birds have evolved airsacs in the head and chest to survive these repeated heavy impacts. From underwater, the sound was thunderous as streamlined, white torpedos pierced the surface. I wanted to create a novel image of these handsome seabirds and resolved to try and capture their movement through a slow exposure. The speed of the gannets led to innumerable failures but in this frame we retain strong eye contact with the gannet, even as the scene is artistically softened. With great thanks to @richardshucksmith , without whom this encounter with the gannets would not have been possible.”

Here’s what judge @alexmustard1 says: “That eye and this moment. A powerful picture. Diving gannets have won this category before, but we’ve never had a portrait like this, that reveals both the personality of this predator and the energy of the action.”

You can read all about Henley’s successful trip to Shetland in 2021 in this months COAST magazine!


ABOUT

Henley Spiers, half British and half French, is a renowned photographer, writer, and trip leader who has fast become one of the most highly decorated underwater shooters in the world.

Starting his professional career in diving as an instructor, working in the Philippines, Indonesia and Saint Lucia, he later fell in love with underwater imagery and made the transition to full-time photographer.

Since then, Henley has amassed a prolific series of award-winning images, including two category wins in the Underwater Photographer of the Year, winning first prize in the Black & White category of Nature Photographer of the Year, and winner of the Ocean Geographic David Doubilet portfolio award.

Henley’s photography has been published in the likes of The Sunday Times, Der Spiegel, and Sierra Magazine, and frequently graces magazine covers.

As an accomplished (and bilingual) writer, Henley’s words often accompany his images, and he is a regular contributor to DIVER magazine (UK), EZ Dive magazine (Taiwan), Plongez magazine (France), and Hakai magazine (Canada). Readers enjoy Henley’s conversational writing style, delivering insight without pretension and usually with a touch of humour. Notably, he has also written for Asian Diver, Outdoor Photography Magazine, bioGraphic, and Black + White Photography magazine.

In 2019, Henley co-authored Black is the New Blue Vol. II, showcasing blackwater diving. His latest book, the Guide to Cebu, co-written with wife and frequent collaborator, Jade, showcases the very best of diving in their former home. Available in the Philippines, the international launch for Guide to Cebu has been delayed due to the current pandemic.

Henley also leads trips to see incredible underwater wildlife encounters, specialising in small-group adventures to rarely seen locations and events. Sought-after as a teacher, Henley’s coaching on these trips has seen a number of attendees go on to become award-winning photographers in their own right.

Although he would be the first to admit that he can still do more to help, Henley has so far enjoyed collaborating in the field of ocean conservation with Blue Marine, Mission Blue, Bertarelli Foundation, Marine Conservation Society, Devon Wildlife Trust, Cornwall Wildlife trust, and Thunnus UK.

In 2019, Henley was honoured to be invited by Blancpain to the Edition Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment programme, joining a select group of the world’s foremost underwater photographers.

 

 

Shetland Seabird Tours – The Noss Boat gains professional WiSe Award Accreditation  – March 2022.  We are leading the way as a major boat-based tourist attraction in Shetland, on how to behave & operate responsibly & safely around the marine wildlife rich environment here on Shetland. We are delighted to be the first to have this accreditation for the start of the 2022 season, having been aware of WiSe for many years. Its main aim of minimising disturbance to marine wildlife is also fundamental to our own company ethos and branding, having two professional ecologists at its core.

“All commercial operators trained and accredited under the WiSe Scheme have an opportunity to lead the public, through demonstrating the example of best practice in the field and ensuring that all commercial operations are sustainable. In doing so you will be helping the long-term future of our precious marine life, for the benefit of future generations”.

www.wisescheme.org

The UK’s national training scheme for minimising disturbance to marine wildlife

The waters around the UK are home to a fantastic variety of marine wildlife, whether visible from the shore or from a boat. However, these wild animals are vulnerable to disturbance if not encountered in a manner that respects their wild nature.

The WiSe Scheme is about watching marine wildlife the wildlife-safe way.

Our aim is to promote responsible wildlife-watching, through training, accreditation and raising awareness. The WiSe Scheme is a simple modular training course aimed primarily at wildlife cruise operators, dive and service boats, yacht skippers and sea kayakers, plus people participating in coasteering, stand-up paddle boarding and wild swimming. These groups of people are most likely to come into contact with marine wildlife, as they are likely out on the water on a regular basis. We also seek to educate the general public who are keen to minimise their impact whilst out on or near the water.

“We enhance people’s understanding on how to avoid disturbing wildlife”…….