One of the UK’s top underwater photographers has received a new environmental award for his volunteering work for marine wildlife.
Devon-based photographer and author Paul Naylor is the first recipient of the Marsh Award for Marine Conservation, honouring his contribution in capturing the beauty of the UK’s marine wildlife, and educating countless people in the value of the nation’s undersea environments.
Paul, who lives at Wembury near Plymouth, was nominated by four regional Wildlife Trusts - Devon, Cornwall, Kent, and Lincolnshire.
In making the award on Monday 1 December at Plymouth’s Mount Batten Centre, Devon Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive Harry Barton paid tribute to him: “Paul’s underwater images truly are extraordinary photographs.
"We have used them for countless campaigns. Paul has an incredible talent, and he is incredibly generous giving us every picture for free.
"We believe the value of those images is worth more than £10,000 to the Devon Wildlife Trust alone. I can’t think of a more deserving person to receive this award. In the interests of marine conservation we thank him so much.”
Also making the award was Joan Edwards, Head of Living Seas for The Wildlife Trusts. Joan added: “Paul’s stunning photographs of British marine life are vital for our work. They allow us to showcase our marine environment, bringing to life species and habitats which many people don’t get to experience, and demonstrate how important the protection of our seas is.”
Paul Naylor is widely recognised as one of the UK’s top underwater wildlife photographers. Over the years, he has built up a wonderful collection of images of British marine species and habitats, bringing the beauty of underwater world to new and wider audiences. His books which include a guide to ‘Great British Marine Animals’ have provided a fascinating insight into the life, behaviours and struggles of the species he photographs.
On receiving his award Paul said: “I am delighted to win the award because I’m very passionate about spreading the word for our amazing marine life and supporting The Wildlife Trusts with my underwater photography. I also feel humbled at being chosen, knowing what wonderful work all the other volunteers do”.
Paul’s passion for marine wildlife was first sparked by snorkelling trips on the Norfolk coast as a teenager. Paul added:
“Having now completed 2,000 dives all around the British coast, our native marine animals still enthral me.
"I am incredibly fortunate to be privy to their hidden lives. I am passionate about showing people, from schoolchildren to politicians, just what beautiful and vulnerable creatures live close to our shores.
"The intriguing lifestyles of so many animals, including those that appear humdrum at first glance, is a great way to reinforce the message that our marine life is special and deserving of much better care.”
The body making the inaugural award for Marine Conservation is the Marsh Christian Trust. Established in 1981 it runs a portfolio of awards across several conservation themes. The Trust’s Jo Probert explained the reasons for establishing this new honour:
“We set up this Award in partnership with the Wildlife Trusts because we were concerned about the conservation of marine wildlife.
"Our other Awards for marine conservation recognise both international and academic achievements, so with this Award we wanted to highlight the important work which marine volunteers are undertaking in the UK.
"Hopefully the Award will help recognise the outstanding efforts of these volunteers in their protection of the Living Seas and raise the profile of their essential work.”