Sea Turtles of Taiwan Place Bronze in Paris Photography Contest

Sea Turtles of Taiwan Place Bronze in Paris Photography Contest
This photo is only authorized for one-time use. Photo Credit: Islander Divers 島人海洋文化工作室
Why you need to know

A collection of photos of sea turtles in Taiwan's waters has been awarded bronze in one of Europe's most prestigious photography competitions.

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A photograph series of sea turtles in Liuqiu (小琉球) recently won a bronze award at the 10th Prix de la Photographie, Paris (Px3).

The series, “Flying Turtle,” was created by Taiwanese Huai Su (蘇淮) and stood out in the “Non-Professional Nature, Underwater” category of the internationally renowned competition.

Su didn’t start diving until 2009, and only began to take underwater photos with a DSLR camera last summer.

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This photo is only authorized for one-time use. Photo Credit: Islander Divers 島人海洋文化工作室
Plans unfold by chance

Last October, Su started Islander Divers with Polly Chen (陳芃諭) in Liuqiu, a small island off the southwest coast of Taiwan, hoping to connect people with the ocean through diving tours and photography. The pair tells The News Lens International they chose to station in Liuqiu because during the northeast seasonal winds in October, when they started Islander Divers, diving is only possible in Kenting and Liuqiu.

“People are generally more familiar with the underwater ecosystem in Kenting, so we decided to base ourselves in Liuqui,” the pair says. “It was all by chance.”

After spending some time on the small island, they were amazed by the enormous number of sea turtles in the area and grew interested in the reptiles. There are currently seven species of sea turtles around the world, five of which can be seen in waters surrounding Taiwan. The pair decided to spend more time with the sea turtles to observe and record their habitat.

“But sea turtles are wild animals, to shoot photos of them takes a lot of time, money and energy building trust with them,” they say.

Su and Chen say they also need to adjust their shooting plans all the time according to the tides, currents and waves.

“We haven’t seen any major difficulties up to now but we are still learning from the ocean,” says the pair.

Entering in Prix de la Photographie, in Paris, was also by chance.

The two stumbled across the application information for the contest on the Internet. They had accumulated a number of photos of sea turtles and applied for the competition using those.

Asked what they think made the photos stand out from all the other contestants', they said this was "probably because a photo series of sea turtles is more uncommon.

"After all, underwater photography has a lot to do with technique and luck. You can’t force the sea creatures to be shot exactly the way you have it pictured in your mind,” they said.

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This photo is only authorized for one-time use. Photo Credit: Islander Divers 島人海洋文化工作室
Huai Su and his gear.
Whatever will be, will be

Following their success in Paris, the pair will continue their work with Islander Divers to draw people closer to the sea.

Su did not learn how to swim until he was in college, so he knows the fear many people have towards open water. He and Chen believe the oceans surrounding Taiwan are no less beautiful than that of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, and hope more people can get to know the sea better.

"It would also make it easier to discuss ocean issues once people learn more about it," they say.

Su and Chen plan to reside in Liuqiu for the next two years and will continue to focus on sea turtles. They are also thinking about traveling around the world to take photos of the other types of sea turtles.

“Whether or not we will be able to inspire more people is all left to fate,” says the pair. “It's like receiving an award in the contest this time, whatever will be, will be.”

Learn more about Islander Divers here.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole

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