It’s lights, camera, action at Sodwana Bay

2013-09-23 00:00

SODWANA Bay, the underwater jewel of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park world heritage site, is set to host one of the country’s premier photography events for the 14th year.

With the iSimangaliso Sodwana Bay Shoot-out, entrants enter footage and images taken exclusively during the three days of the competition at Sodwana Bay.

While the key event is still underwater photography, the contest is no longer reserved only for divers. Last year was the first time that a “Land” category was opened, which allowed entries taken anywhere in the immediate vicinity of Sodwana Bay.

The competition recognises competitors at various skill levels from novice through to advanced and professional entrants. There are great prizes for the various techniques and categories as well as for the overall winner.

Brian Ring, chairperson of the organising committee, emphasised that marine life should never be stressed or endangered for the sake of a photo or video clip.

“Last year we launched a new conservation initiative where we had independent observers monitor divers underwater for any misconduct. All entrants had to wear a luminous disc with their entry number on it as to be easily identified by the observers. This initiative was highly successful in encouraging compliance.

“In line with all iSimangaliso events, 30% of the entry fees is donated towards the iSimangaliso Rare and Endangered Species Fund. This goes towards the protection, monitoring and introduction of species in the park such as white and black rhino, oribi and eland,” he said.

• Last year a decision was made to change the event from an underwater photographic shoot-out to a family festival to include something for the whole family, especially children.

Beach clean-ups, sand sculpture and children’s fun beach activities will keep youngsters happy and teach them the importance of looking after their natural heritage.

• Evening entertainment will include a presentation on iSimangaliso’s Coelacanth discoveries and expeditions presented by Peter Timm of Triton Diving. Gaby Met­calfe will present a talk on the principles of underwater photography, while local band Sondela will provide music entertainment. Prizes include accommodation and dive packages from Sodwana Bay operators, dive courses, photography courses, dive and camera equipment.

• The festival has again added a sports section for 2013 with the iSimangaliso Supa­trade Supa-Race. Last year it attracted over 180 runners who chose either the 14 km stretch from Mbazwana to Sodwana Bay taking in a scenic forest trail and beach section below the towering dunes, or a shorter five-kilometre run or walk.

The 21 km half marathon is an official race, registered with KZN Athletics.

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