Underwater photographs show the wonder of the Native Oyster

In 2020, ZSL, the University of Portsmouth and the Native Oyster Network called on the UK public to get creative and submit their best images of the native oyster in its natural environment. The Native Oyster is cryptic and rare. Add to that the challenging diving conditions off the UK coast and around the North Sea, and images of this delicate creature underwater are few and far between. The “Native Oyster Quest” underwater photography competition encouraged divers, wildlife photographers, fishing enthusiasts, people living by the coast and oyster lovers to help gather images which may inspire others less familiar will it to fall in love with this iconic native species.  

The competition received a fantastic response, despite the disruptions of COVID-19, with over 40 fabulous entries, it was not easy for the expert panel of judges to choose their favourites, yet a few images stood out for their technical skill and how well they complied with the competition’s brief. NORA would like to thank the Native Oyster Network for giving permission for us to share the competition results with the Network. For more details please visit: nativeoysternetwork.org/

Dr Paul Naylor 
(BSAC member, Marine Biologist, Underwater Photographer and Author of Great British Marine Animals)

A huge congratulations to the competition winner, Dr Paul Naylor, who came across this native oyster while diving at Brighton Pier. Here’s what he had to say about his amazing image: ‘The delicate gape of oysters is attractive, but their shells are usually rather cryptic, so the prominent position and colourful sponge covering on this one really caught my eye. I also liked its mussel neighbours, a union of hard-working filter feeders!’. To see more of Paul’s fantastic underwater photography please take a look at his Instagram page @PaulNaylorMarinePhoto 

Sorrel Hugh-Jones

Sorrel took this wonderful image at the Helford Native Oyster Fishery, Cornwall. Our judges loved how even though at first the crab seems to take centre stage in this photograph, the Native Oyster shines as the true hero of the image, in the heart of its habitat, supporting a wide array of life and activity.  

Dr Gerald Legg 
(BSAC Member, Biologist, Zoologist and volunteer with Sussex SeaSearch)

Dr Gerald Legg submitted this incredible image that he took back in September 2006 as part of a survey in Brighton Marina looking for seahorses. During the survey Gerald found native oysters attached to the pontoons surrounded by squirts, sponges, hydroids etc. showing that you do not have to go to the tropics to have such colourful underwater life. To see more of Gerald’s wonderful images please visit his website.

The Native Oyster Network would once again like to thank everyone that participated in the competition, spread the word to friends, family, and colleagues as well as the incredible judges and prize givers – ZSL, BSAC and Oyster Diving. With the help of everyone we have certainly managed to fulfil the goals of the #NativeOysterQuest and look forward to being able to showcase all the wonderful images in the coming months, to help champion the importance of native oyster restoration.