A recreational diver from Weymouth has been recognised in an international national underwater photography competition.  

Sandra Stalker, 49, is an art lecturer in Weymouth College and has a great passion for recreational diving, using her underwater camera to capture the various sea life she sees around local shores.  

Her photography was recognised in the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 competition for her selection of sea life images taken locally.

More than 6,500 entries from across the globe were submitted across 13 categories, including Macro, Wide-Angle, Behaviour and Wreck.

Sandra was awarded Most Promising British Underwater Photographer 2024 for her shot of a crab at Sandsfoot Beach in Portland Harbour, entitled “Midnight Raver.”

Dorset Echo:

She also came third with an image of stalked jellyfish at Kimmeridge in the British Waters Macro category.

Dorset also featured in another competition win as Jonathan Bunker's shot of a catshark in bootlace seaweed, Chesil Cove saw him named British Waters Compact winner.

Sandra shared her delight in being recognised in such a large competition.

“I entered back in January and then found out I had three images selected. When I found out the crab had come second and jellyfish third it was a really big deal and when I found out I won most promising that was really exciting.”

Dorset Echo:

Her passion for underwater photography stemmed from childhood where Sandra learned to dive around Portland Harbour. While she got her first underwater camera in around 2004, it wasn’t until recently that she began to experiment with photography.

“In 2019 I entered the competition for the first time and began to look at photography more creatively. That’s where my passion started. It pushed me to think outside the box when it comes to photography.

“All the time I’m finding new places to go and keep pushing myself to find new ways of capturing some creatures. The shore crab is a common subject locally, but they are fun characters and very vibrant. It’s about continuing the promotion of our local creatures but finding new ways to photograph them.

“For crabs, for example, I use a purple colour filter to make it stand out otherwise it would blend in with the seabed.”

Dorset Echo: Sandra Stalker with underwater camera

While she admits underwater photography can pose difficulties in terms of visibility and stormy weather, she hopes her photography will encourage more people to appreciate the marine wildlife of the Dorset coastline.

“I started the competition to promote local wildlife. People have perceptions that it’s all brown underwater in the U.K and it doesn’t have exciting wildlife. But it does if you know where to look.

“Visibility locally can vary from ten centimetres up to ten metres. Unfortunately, when I learnt to dive it was a few rough months and I didn’t see anything. I was disappointed but when I did see the creatures, it was so exciting.

“It’s a message to people to persevere with sea snorkelling as one day could just be a bad day, and never forget to just stop and look to appreciate what’s on their doorstep."