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Live From Our World Underwater
By Jason Heller, February 16, 2008 @ 02:00 AM (EST)
We're reporting live from the floor of the Our World Underwater show in Chicago, where we are presenting the winners of the 3rd annual Wetpixel & DivePhotoGuide International Underwater Photography & Video Competition this weekend.The show and film festival opened up Friday evening to a healthy crowd from Chicago aJason Heller presents underwater video winnersnd surrounding midwest cities. The expo itself filled the Stephens Convention Center with dive goodies, underwater photography & video equipment, and the "kid in a candy store" excitement that generally exists at a dive show. The legendary Stan Waterman was the emcee for the Friday night film festival, and Annie Crawley will be the emcee for the film festival tonight. We presented the 1st place videos from the General & Conservation categories of the Wetpixel & DivePhotoGuide Competition last night. The five minute films by Mark Santa Maria (Conservation) and Michael Boom (General) were well received by the packed auditorium. A complete list of winners and prizes will be online later this week. Other presentations last night included Treasure at Five Fathoms (Robert Marx), She Died a Hard Death - Sinking of the Hennepin (Valerie VanHeest), Cutting Across Time (David Trotter), Shifting Sands of Time at Whitefish Point (Jim & Pat Stayer) , Treasure Found (Gary Mace & Carl Fissmer), and Diving with the Bilikiki in the Solomon Islands by Stan Waterman himself.Today however, everyone is talking about Mark Santa Maria's winning Conservation videoBerkley White with underwater photography gear of Manatees being harassed by dive/snorkel operators in Crystal River Florida. It is a very well done piece, and documents the despicable behavior of local operators willing to illegally harass manatees, even separating mother from calf, just to ensure that their customers have an encounter. As divers, we should all understand that interacting with marine life is a privilege and not a right. We are helping Mark send this footage to the proper authorities and we will be following up with a feature article from Mark about this situation within the next several weeks.

Stay tuned for more updates from Our World Underwater in freezing Chicago...

Images above: Jason Heller presents winning videos on stage, Berkley White poses with all his toys.  

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