Stunning hedgehog seahorse is the Guylian Seahorses of the World winner!

Grand prize winner, Hedgehog seahorse (H. spinosissimus). Photo by Luc Eeckhaut/Guylian SOTW

Grand prize winner, Hedgehog seahorse (H. spinosissimus). Photo by Luc Eeckhaut/Guylian SOTW

Project Seahorse is pleased to announce the results of this year’s Guylian Seahorses of the World Photography Competition. Congratulations to Luc Eeckhaut, our 2016 winner! His stunning snapshot of a Hedgehog seahorse (Hippocampus spinosissimus) features a boldly hued sea squirt, the blue bell tunicate (Clavelina moluccensis). Eeckhaut’s winning photograph was unveiled at the NELOS International Underwater Photo & Video Festival held on November 26th in Oostende, Belgium. The Seahorses of the World category is sponsored by Guylian Chocolates, who are renowned for their commitment to conservation and their decadent hazelnut praline filling.

This contest provides a platform for all underwater photographers, from fledgling ocean enthusiasts to seasoned aquatic artists, to showcase their talent while raising awareness of the plight of these fabulous fish. Winning photos were selected based on a variety of criteria, most notably their scientific and artistic value.  

This year, the Guylian Seahorses of the World Photography Competition consisted of two divisions, the Grand Prize and the Public Prize. The Grand Prize winners were determined by a panel of experts in the fields of underwater photography and seahorse biology. The Public Prize allowed people to vote online for their favourite submissions, and the most popular pictures were shortlisted for further evaluation by the adjudicators. 

Luc Eeckhaut, who hails from Belgium, was presented with the 1st Place Grand Prize, a Scubapro Chromis watch and 500 euros for the purchase of diving equipment. The 2nd Place Prize was a Scubapro regulator bag and 200 euros, awarded to Bruno Van Saen of Belgium. In 3rd Place was Gino Symus, also from Belgium, who earned a Scubapro microfiber towel and 50 euros. 

Second place Grand Prize, Spotted seahorse (H. kuda). Photo by Bruno van Saen/Guylian SOTW

Second place Grand Prize, Spotted seahorse (H. kuda). Photo by Bruno van Saen/Guylian SOTW

Third place Grand Prize, Hedgehog seahorse (H. spinosissimus). Photo by Gino Symus/Guylian SOTW

Third place Grand Prize, Hedgehog seahorse (H. spinosissimus). Photo by Gino Symus/Guylian SOTW

As for the Public Prize winners, each won a stash of Guylian’s coveted confectioneries worth 20-50 euros. The Public Prize recipients were Rui Palma (Portugal, 1st Place), Tom Van Hout (Belgium, 2nd Place), Jef Driesen (Belgium, 3rd Place), Danny Van Belle (Belgium, 4th Place) and Arco de Man (Netherlands, 5th Place). Competitors who didn’t win formal prizes were eligible to receive a Guylian gift bag if they attended the NELOS Festival.

First place Public Prize.  Long-snouted seahorse (H. guttulatus). Photo by Rui Palma/Guylian SOTW

First place Public Prize.  Long-snouted seahorse (H. guttulatus). Photo by Rui Palma/Guylian SOTW

Second place Public Prize.  Pontoh's seahorse (H. pontohi). Photo by Tom van Hout/Guylian SOTW

Second place Public Prize.  Pontoh's seahorse (H. pontohi). Photo by Tom van Hout/Guylian SOTW

Third place Public Prize.  Bargibant's pygmy seahorse (H. bargibanti). Photo by Jef Driesen/Guylian SOTW

Third place Public Prize.  Bargibant's pygmy seahorse (H. bargibanti). Photo by Jef Driesen/Guylian SOTW

A huge thank you to all participants for your wonderful contributions! This contest is invaluable to seahorse conservation, as photography is a potent medium for fostering respect for aquatic life. Guylian Seahorses of the World provides Project Seahorse with rights to the entrants’ pictures, which can help further seahorse research, education, outreach and conservation. By capturing these magical animals on camera, the public is offered a tangible connection to what we stand to lose if maintaining marine biodiversity isn’t a priority. 

View all the submissions in the Guylian photo gallery:  http://seahorses.guylian.com
You can also find many of the current and previous Seahorses of the World entries on iSeahorse.org, Project Seahorse’s citizen science initiative.