Paul Naylor is an marine biologist and underwater photographer, who aims to increase the understanding of what amazing wildlife lurks beneath the waves around our coastlines. His ‘Sunstar in Brittlestar Bed’ was Highly Commended in the 2012 British Wildlife Photography Awards.
What inspired you to start photographing the marine environment?
Snorkelling as a teenager, I was totally captivated by what I could see in the shallow sea around Britain: amazing animals engaged in all sorts of fascinating activities. I wanted to show people what I was seeing, so photography came quickly from that.
What effect do you hope your photography will have on people’s perceptions of the marine environment in the UK?
Most people are flabbergasted by the beauty and intrigue in our seas, even those quite knowledgeable about terrestrial wildlife. I hope photography can help them to think of our seas as a special place that needs care and respect – rather than as a combined larder and waste-bin.
You must have seen some incredible marine life while taking photos. Which species have you found most fascinating?
It’s really difficult to pick just a few, but three species are particularly special to me. Shore crabs were what first caught my eye 40 years ago and they still fascinate me. I was lucky enough to see one in the process of moulting its armour suit just last summer. The others are the tompot blenny and cuttlefish – charismatic animals with incredibly complex lifestyles that give you a surprise every time you watch them.
Tell us how you captured your Highly Commended ‘Sunstar in Brittlestar Bed’ photograph.
Brittlestar beds are wonderful places and great for impressive predators such as the sunstar. The secret of that photograph was getting in exceptionally close with an ultra-wide angle lens. That reduces the amount of water between subject and lens to a minimum (the water in Loch Carron is beautifully clear but still equivalent to a fog on land) and gives a dramatic perspective.