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Ocean Photographer of the Year 2021 announced

Ocean Photographer of the Year WINNER | Aimee Jan | A green turtle, surrounded by glass fish. “I was out snorkelling when one of my colleagues told me there was a turtle under a ledge in a school of glass fish, about 10 metres down,” says photographer Aimee Jan. “When I dived down to look, the fish separated around the turtle perfectly. I said to her: ‘I think I just took the best photo I have ever taken’.” (Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia)

Ningaloo Coast-based photographer, Aimee Jan, has been announced as the Ocean Photographer of the Year 2021.

Aimee’s beautiful image of a green sea turtle surrounded by glass fish was captured on the world-famous Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia. Chosen from thousands of submissions from around the world, it was a unanimous winner amongst the seven world-renowned Ocean Photography Awards judges.

Ocean Photographer of the Year SECOND PLACE | Henley Spiers | “Diving in amidst the barrage of gannets, I witness the violent synchronicity of these impressive seabirds as they embark on fishing dives,” says photographer Henley Spiers. “They hit the water at 60mph, an impact they can only withstand thanks to specially evolved air sacs in the head and chest. The bird’s agility transfers from air to sea where it also swims with incredible speed.” (Isle of Noss, Shetland, UK)

In second place is Exeter-based photographer, Henley Spiers, with a beautiful photograph of diving gannets off the Shetland Islands, Scotland.

Ocean Photographer of the Year THIRD PLACE | Matty Smith | “A hawksbill turtle hatchling just 3.5cm long and a few minutes old takes its first swim,” says photographer Matty Smith. “It had emerged from an egg just minutes earlier with approximately 100 of its siblings. They quickly made their way into the ocean to disperse as rapidly as they could and avoid predation from birds and fish. I had to work quickly for this shot.”

In third place is Sydney-based photographer, Matty Smith, with an image of a hawksbill turtle hatchling heading out to sea for the first time.

This year has also seen the introduction of the Female Fifty Fathoms Award, a new nomination category designed to celebrate inspiring women in ocean photography. LA-based photographer and biology teacher, Renee Capozzola, has been announced the inaugural winner for her beautiful portfolio of work.

A free, outdoor public exhibition alongside the River Thames, on the Queen’s Walk near Tower Bridge, will be open to the public from tomorrow, September 17th. It will run for one month, closing on October 17th.



Ocean Adventure Photographer of the Year WINNER | Ben Thouard (image A) | Surfer Matahi Drollet catches a wave known as Teahupo’o in Tahiti. (Tahiti, French Polynesia)

The Ocean Photography Awards has a simple mission: to shine a light on the beauty of the ocean and the threats it faces.

The competition has this year been produced by Oceanographic Magazine in partnership with Blancpain, Princess Yachts and Tourism Western Australia, and in support of conservation organisation SeaLegacy.

Ocean Adventure Photographer of the Year SECOND PLACE | Ben Thouard (image B) | A wave known as Teahupo’o, as seen from below. (Tahiti, French Polynesia)

Marc A Hayek, president and CEO of Blancpain, said:

“As a keen scuba diver and underwater photographer, I appreciate what it takes to capture extraordinary photographs of the ocean: passion, skill and commitment to your craft. The finalists of the Ocean Photography Awards 2021 display those assets in abundance. Their images reveal the ocean for what it is – or at least what it should be – a place full of life, colour and wonder. They also remind us of the injustices we are inflicting upon it. What a powerful collection of photographs.”

Kiran Haslam, chief marketing officer at Princess Yachts, said:

“We are honoured to have seen outstanding images submitted this year; they are of incredible standard, capturing some truly exceptional moments. The images submitted in this year’s OPA, without doubt, poignantly highlight the fact that the most important thing we can do right now is act quickly to protect our planet and our ocean.”

Ocean Adventure Photographer of the Year THIRD PLACE | Sebastien Pontoizeau | A freediver duck dives to capture a photograph of a humpback whale. (Réunion Island)

David Templeman, Western Australian Government Tourism Minister, said:

“This year’s finalists have done an incredible job, not just in capturing aquatic adventures so evocatively, but in inspiring new audiences to treasure them.”

Cristina Mittermeier, co-founder and president of SeaLegacy, said:

“The calibre of the images submitted to the second annual Ocean Photography Awards was incredible! I, along with my fellow judges, were challenged and more than impressed by the entries this year. We spent a lot of time discussing the power these images have to inspire people all over the world to advocate for ocean protection. We also spent a considerable amount of time admiring the incredible artistry. Thank you to everyone who entered, and congratulations to this year's finalists.”

Ocean Adventure Photographer of the Year HIGHLY COMMENDED

• Grant Thomas | Playful grey seals – a species that has been protected in the UK for decades under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970. (Farne Islands, United Kingdom)

• Martin Broen | A diver descends into a cenote. (Quintana Roo, Mexico)

• Steve Woods | Sea lions swarm a diver. (Vancouver Island, Canada)

• Jake Wilton | A manta ray, surrounded by a school of fish. (Coral Bay, Western Australia)

• Scott Portelli | A humpback whale calf crashes back into the ocean after a breach. (Neiafu, Tonga)

• James Ferrara | A sperm whale and sargassum seaweed. (Roseau, Dominica)

• Gergo Rugli | A common dolphin photographed in the Port Stephens Marine Park off Broughton Island. (Port Stephens, Australia)

• Tanya Houppermans | An American crocodile glides through the water at sunset at Gardens of the Queen, Cuba, a protected marine reserve since 1996. (Gardens of the Queen, Cuba)

• Rodrigo Thome | A shiver of hammerhead sharks. (Darwin Island, Galapagos)

• Daisuke Kurashima | A humpback whale dives into the blue, emitting a trail of bubbles as it descends. (Okinawa, Japan)



Winner FIRST - Stefan Christmann

• The emperor penguin egg is bred by the fathers and carried on their feet.

• When both parents are foraging, their chicks gather in creches, or mini huddles.

• Two emperor penguin fathers meet on the sea ice, showing their offspring.

• Male emperor penguins huddling during polar night, to stay warm as a group.

• In late spring, the emperor penguin colony almost mainly consists of chicks.

• Two emperor penguins mating. The male is climbing onto the female.

• A returning female calling for her mate upon her arrival at the colony.

• A lonely chick standing on the ice-shelf, as the sea-ice broke up too early.

• Two emperor penguin parents shielding their young chick from the drifting snow.

• Emperor penguins returning to the breeding grounds at the end of summer.

Ocean Collective Portfolio Award

Winner SECOND - Stefan Christmann

• Sea Sparkle (Noctiluca scintillans) washing ashore and glowing brilliantly in the ebb and flow of the lapping waves.

• During a stormy day at sea, a humpback whale calf glides effortlessly below.

• Eastern kelpfish chase each other up the water column in a beautiful, dance-like mating ritual.

• The distinguishing characteristics of a leopard shark; a whip-like tail and beautiful skin patterns.

• A southern bobtail squid performs a spectacular display on the seabed at night.

• A hawksbill turtle hatchling, just minutes old, takes its first swim.

• The striate anglerfish is a master of disguise with a monstrous appetite.

• Pacific Man o’ War, a colourful marine invader under an apocalyptic red sky.

• Like a miniature spinning galaxy on the ocean surface, the Porpita porpita siphonophore.

Ocean Collective Portfolio Award

Winner THIRD - Alex Kydd

• A whale shark swimming in the blue on the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.

• A whale shark surrounded by a school of juvenile golden trevally on the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.

• A reef manta ray filter feeding with a school of juvenile golden trevally in Batemans Bay, Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.

• A rare encounter with a fever of cownose rays on the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. • The Papuan jellyfish, nicknamed the Golden Medusa, photographed at night in a jellyfish lake in Raja Ampat, West Papua.

• Grey reef sharks hunt and chase a huge school of bait fish.

• An uncommon sighting of a whale shark feeding on a large school of baitfish on the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.

• A melanistic reef manta swimming over the sand flats of Coral Bay, Western Australia.

• A split shot image of the dense coral gardens of Coral Bay, Ningaloo Reef.

• A freediver falls through an ocean full of moon jellyfish in Raja Ampat, West Papua.

Collective Portfolio HIGHLY COMMENDED - Galice Hoarau

• Eel larvae, Lembeh, Indonesia.

• A green turtle on a reef, Selayar, Indonesia.

• Atlantic spotted dolphins, Bimini, Bahamas.

• A wolffish father watching his nest, Saltstraumen, Norway

• Pontoh´s pygmy seahorse, Siladen, Indonesia.

• Jellyfish in a fjord, Gulen, Norway.

• A silky shark, Jupiter, Florida.

• Snooty the lemon shark, Jupiter, Florida.

• A nudibranch, Saltstraumen, Norway.

• Juvenile trevally hiding in a box jellyfish in Lembeh, Indonesia.

Collective Portfolio HIGHLY COMMENDED - Steven Kovacs

• Moyer's dragonets rising into the water column during spawning.

• Pelagic nudibranchs mating in the open ocean.

• Larval lobster carrying four larval acorn worms which are one of its food sources.

• Two male blennies in a territorial fight over a nearby female.

• Arrow crab releasing its eggs into the current.

• Male and female frogfish displaying spawning behaviour.

• Female octopus guarding its eggs.

• A male yellowhead jawfish mouthbrooding its eggs until they are ready to hatch.

• Arrow blenny snatching a shrimp out of the water column for a meal.

• A female brittle star releasing its eggs during spawning.



WINNER - Phil de Glanville - Surfer Jack Robinson rides the famous break known as ‘The Right’, home to some of the heaviest waves in the world. (Denmark, Western Australia)

RUNNER UP - Michael Haluwana - A pod of dolphins catches a wave. (Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia)

RUNNER UP - Fabrice Guerin - A sea lion hunts mackerel off the coast of Baja. (Baja California Sur, Mexico)

RUNNER UP - Maxwel Hohn - A sea nettle drifts in the shallows of Monterey Bay. (California, USA)

RUNNER UP - Ben Thouard - A surfer wipeout, as captured from below the surface. (Tahiti, French Polynesia)



WINNER - Kerim Sabuncuoglu - A dead moray eel on an abandoned fishing line. (Bodrum, Turkey)

SECOND - Galice Hoarau (A) - A gull caught on a ghost fishing line. (Saltstraumen, Norway)

THIRD - Steven Kovacs (A) - A female paper nautilus drifts along on a piece of trash. (Anilao, Philippines)


• Kimball Chen - An endangered yellow-eyed penguin under a starry sky. (Curio Bay, New Zealand)

• Nicholas Samaras - A seahorse clings to a face mask. (Stratoni, Greece)

• Steven Kovacs (B) - A lizardfish tries to eat a cigarette filter. (Florida, USA)

• Thien Nguyen Ngoc - Anchovy fishing boats photographed from above along the coastline of Phu Yen province, Vietnam. (Phu Yen province, Vietnam)

• Galice Hoarau (B) - A shark with a fishing hook and line protruding from its mouth. (Florida, USA)

• Henley Spiers (B) -

A dead gannet hangs from a piece of discarded fishing gear, used to build its nest. (Isle of Noss, Shetland, UK)

• Jason Gulley - A dead manatee floats in Florida's Indian River Lagoon. (Florida, USA)

• Henley Spiers (A) - An olive ridley turtle ensnared by fishing gear, far offshore in the Pacific Ocean. (Baja California Sur, Mexico)

• Rodrigo Thome - Dead fish in a ghost net. (Redonda Island, Brazil)

• Stefan Christmann - An emperor penguin chick stands on the edge of the ice-shelf, staring at the open water below. (Atka Bay, Antarctica)



WINNER - Martin Broen (A) - Speleothems cast long shadows at cenote Dos Pisos. (Quintana Roo, Mexico)

SECOND - Steven Kovacs - A rare deep water cusk eel larva. (Florida, USA)

THIRD - Matty Smith (A) - A portrait of a squid. (Bushrangers Bay, Australia)


• Alex Kydd - A fever of cownose rays displaying what is believed to be mating or courtship behaviour. (Coral Bay, Western Australia)

• Tobias Friedrich - Life beneath a frozen fjord. (Tasiilaq Fjord, East Greenland)

• Matthew Bagley - A southern bottletail squid in the palm of a hand. (Western Port Bay, Australia)

• Nadia Aly - Emperor penguins stand tall against bracing winds. (Snow Hill, Antarctica)

• Matty Smith (B) - A southern bobtail squid puts on a performance. (Wollongong Harbour, Australia)

• Scott Portelli (B) - A diver observes mating cuttlefish. (Port Bonython, South Australia)

• Martin Broen (B) - A cave diver is silhouetted against a colourful backdrop in cenote Chikin Ha, created by tannic acid. (Quintana Roo, Mexico)

• Fabrice Guerin - A freediver makes their way back to the surface following a dive. (Quintana Roo, Mexico)

• Scott Portelli (A) - False killer whales, in black and white. (Ovaka, Tonga)



WINNER - Renee Capozzola - A lone blacktip reef shark lines up its dorsal fin with the setting sun in Moorea, French Polynesia. “This over-under image was achieved by using a wide-angle lens, a large dome port and strobe flash to illuminate the underwater portion of the picture,” says photographer Renee Capozzola. “Sharks are plentiful in French Polynesia due to their strong legal protections and are a sign of a healthy marine ecosystem.” (Mo´orea, French Polynesia)

SECOND - Aimee Jan - A manta ray feeds in calm waters. “We were out on a humpback whale tour when manta rays were spotted line feeding, swimming back and forth on the surface scooping up huge mouthfuls of plankton,” says photographer Aimee Jan. “On this day there was no wind – we call this a glass off because the surface of the water looks like glass. We got in for a swim and it was just beautiful. I took a few photos. This one was my favourite.” (Exmouth gulf, Western Australia)

THIRD - Emily Ledwidge - A leopard shark slowly swims away on the Ningaloo Reef. “In this chaotic world we should be taking the time to consider what is important,” says photographer Emilie Ledwidge. “What is important to us? What is important to Mother Earth? Sharks continue to be fished, finned, culled and hated by much of the world’s people. Their populations continue to fade and yet this is one species that we as humans cannot live without.” (Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia)



WINNER - Hannah Le Leu - A green sea turtle hatchling cautiously surfaces for air, to a sky full of hungry birds. (Heron Island, Australia)

SECOND - Jack McKee - A juvenile flying fish, photographed from below. (Lady Elliot Island, Australia)

THIRD - Mikayla Jones - Two gray whales seemingly pose for the camera. (Baja California, Mexico)


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