June 27, 2008

Kona Classic Participants Celebrate International Year of the Reef!


Best of Show by Doug Farr


Best Reef Etiquette winner by Jeff Jones


Best Reef in Balance or Out of Balance winner by Bill Greentree

The Kona Classic photo contest is an annual event that gives underwater photographers and videographers the unique opportunity to dive, shoot and learn from some of the world’s most famous underwater photographers in an atmosphere where reef conservation and education are strongly embraced.   Underwater highlights of the event included five days of diving off the beautiful Kona Coast, intimate encounters in the blue with pilot whales and oceanic white tip sharks, and a surreal night dive graced with twelve feeding manta rays. This year the event was dedicated to the memory of Jim Watt, an astounding photographer, inspiration, and friend to the ocean. 

In an effort to raise participants’ awareness of the coral reef crisis and emphasize the importance of reef stewardship and conservation among the dive community, Reef Check Hawai`i sponsored two photo categories at this year’s Kona Classic held May 24th – 31st.

“The Reef in Balance…or out of Balance” encouraged participants to shoot a behavioral or symbiotic relationship on the reef that illustrated a healthy, balanced ecosystem, or conversely, that portrayed an ecological imbalance or anthropogenic impact. All the judges agreed, this was one of the most difficult categories to judge and were very pleased to see so many participants looking through their lenses with regard to human impacts and the effects we can have on the natural balance of the marine environment.

Aspiring to eliminate recreational impact on the reef throughout the event, “Best Reef Etiquette” was chosen to encourage participants to concentrate on their own buoyancy skills and to inspire competitors to do the same. Judges sought out the best image of a diver demonstrating conscientious and responsible dive behavior while photographing marine life. A warm mahalo nui loa to all the participants who made a strong effort to take only memories and leave no fin prints!

Reef Check winners received great prizes from scuba company Promate (also a sponsor of the Reef Check International Photo Contest) in earth-friendly reusable grocery bags. Winning entries will be used in Reef Check’s educational and outreach materials.

Sponsored by Body Glove Cruises, the week’s activities also included a special kids’ day snorkeling treasure hunt. The afternoon event was great fun for all involved and encouraged reef conservation from a young age. Reef Check Hawai`i staff and volunteers spoke to participants about five simple things they can do to help protect and conserve local reefs. The first 100 children received a free mask and snorkel from Body Glove Cruises, but to obtain prizes after the treasure hunt, the kids had to remember at least one of the five things they had learned about reef conservation! The young participants were eager to learn and became immediate stewards of the reef, happily picking up trash and plastic off the beach and proudly sharing other ways which they had previously learned on how to conserve coral reefs. Many sincere thanks go out to our Body Glove sponsors who made this fun and educational day possible!

The 8th annual Kona Classic will be held next spring, April 25 – May 2, 2009. Come join in the fun, encourage reef conservation, and show us your best shot! For information, contact Jack’s Diving Locker at (808) 329-7585 or dive@jacksdivinglocker.com.