Live Reports: Anilao Underwater Shootout 2018

Live Reports: Anilao Underwater Shootout 2018

Now in its sixth year, the 2018 Anilao Underwater Shootout started today. The event is unique in that it attracts not only foreign competitors but also large numbers of local participants. The event has a total 173 entrants in 2017 and has had over 150 this year already. This should be tempered with the knowledge that many of the participants will drive up to Anilao from the Manila for this weekend, so have not registered yet…Regardless of this, the Anilao Shootout is currently the largest live underwater shootout competitions.

The Anilao Shootout is organized by the Philippines Department of Tourism, along with a large number of local resorts, retailers and global travel and equipment providers. This combination of government and private support makes for an enthusiastic and fun event.

The format involves registering for the Shootout and then going diving! There are two classes of an entrant, “Open” and “Compact,” and each class has numerous categories: Macro/Super macro, Marine Behaviour, Nudibranch and Fish Portrait. Also, there are specific categories for Blackwater/Bonfire and GoPro/iPhone images. Upon registration, participants are given unique camera settings that are embedded in image metadata. Local dive and resort operations offer accommodation packages for visiting divers.

The contest has a firm no manipulation ethos, with all the local guides signing an agreement with the organizers expressly outlawing it, and each guide wears an identity tag, which can be used to reports any incidences of negative interactions.

The hub of the Shootout’s organization is by Oliver Ang and his team at Acacia Resort and Dive Center. From 7 am this morning, contestants arrived to register for the contest. Many of the resorts have teams, and there is a friendly rivalry.

The process seems very well organized. Department of Tourism personnel had an efficient system.

The registration carries on every day, with new contestants arriving each day of the event.

Of particular note is the degree to which the organizers are attempting to control the environmental impact of the event. All guides are registered and must attend a mandatory safety and environment briefing, after which the sign a contract emphasizing the standards they are required to abide by. Each guide also wears a tase underwater, making them identifiable in the event of their being any complaints.

Upon registEach contestant is issued with a badge, and on its reverse, stout environmental policy is listed.

Leaving the resort for a while, we headed out for a dive on a muck site called Mainit Point. It was a classic much diving site, with a sandy bottom covered in exciting critters. Our guide Brian did an excellent job of finding lots of subjects for us.

We returned to the resort for lunch and a surface interval. For tea afternoon dive, we were joined by Inon’s Takuya Torii, who ended a final bet that he could in fact dive!

The second site was another muck site called Pinoy. Once again, Brian showed us a fantastic variety of critters.

The contest was hosting an official opening ceremony at the Acacia Resort, and all day teams have been busy installing sound and AV equipment. There was a series of speeches by the organisers, and the judges , were introduced. 2018’s judging panel is Ellen Cuylaerts, Laurent Ballesta, John Thet, Indra Swari and William Tan.

Laurent then gave a fantastic talk about his expeditions, with some stunning imagery. He discussed his trips expeditions from his early days in France, through the first Gombessa coelacanth trips all the way through his more recent Antarctic and French Polynesian adventures. He made a unique quote by stating that the creatures he was seeking were not rare, but the environment that they exist in is seldom visited. His images were stunning, and it was amazing to see the somewhat large and “excited” group of underwater photographers completely engaged and silent as they watched.

The opening ceremony then ended up with dancing and merriment, with team Buceo Anilao in the swimming pool (along with judge Ellen Cuylaerts!)

Tomorrow will be perhaps somewhat quieter. We are going out diving, so will report further on how it goes later. Please keep checking back for updates.

  1. Day 1.
  2. Day 2.
  3. Day 3.
  4. Day 4.
  5. Day 5.
  6. Shootout Closing Ceremony.