Best Undersea Photography: 20 Winners Of Ocean Photographer Of The Year 2021 – Forbes

A male yellowhead jawfish ‘mouthbrooding’ its eggs until ready to hatch.
The Ocean Photography Award has announced the winners for its 2021 Photographer Of The Year competition and the images are an inspiring celebration of our blue planet, as well as a platform to highlight the many plights it faces.
Together with the overall winner, the awarded images in eight categories, including the inaugural Female Fifty Fathoms Award (established to provide a platform for inspiring women in ocean photography), are a free-diving journey with humpback whales in crystal-clear waters, gannet dive-bombing for mackerel in the Shetland Islands and adrenaline-infused shots of surfers wrestling with frothing waves.
The Ocean Photography Awards, presented by Oceanographic Magazine is “a platform to shine a light on the beauty of the ocean and the threats it faces,” the organizers emphasize.
“As we too well know, however, our species’ interaction with the ocean isn’t always positive. The perils of ghost fishing lines and Covid masks communicate an urgent message, while vast trawler nets and melting ice remind us that the ocean’s perils are plural.”
The entrants in 2021’s competition included a number of the world’s leading ocean and wildlife photographers and provided the judges with a significant challenge.
Australian photographer Aimee Jan was selected as the Ocean Photographer of the Year 2021, with a beautiful image of a green sea turtle surrounded by a school of glass fish, captured on Ningaloo Reef, Australia. 
The photos are on display in a free, month-long outdoor public exhibition on the Queen’s Walk along the Thames River in London from September 17 to October 17.
Winner: A green turtle surrounded by glass fish in Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.
“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’.”
Second Prize: a gannet dive-bombs for mackerel in the Shetland Islands, Isle of Noss, U.K.
“Diving in amidst the barrage of gannets, I witness the violent synchronicity of these impressive seabirds as they embark on fishing dives,” says the photographer.
“They hit the water at 60 miles per hour, 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.”
Third prize: A Hawksbill turtle hatchling, Papua New Guinea.
Just 3.5 centimeters long and a few minutes old, the baby Hawksbill turtle takes its first swim.
“It had emerged from an egg just minutes earlier with approximately 100 of its siblings,” says photographer Matty Smith. “They quickly made their way into the ocean to disperse as rapidly as they could and avoid predation from birds and fish.”
Winner, Female Fifty Fathoms Award: split shot of a blacktip reef shark taken on Moorea, French … [+] Polynesia, at sunset.
A lone blacktip reef shark lines up its dorsal fin with the setting sun in Moorea, French Polynesia.
“Sharks are plentiful in French Polynesia due to their strong legal protections and are a sign of a healthy marine ecosystem,” said photographer Renee Capozzola.
Winner, Female Fifty Fathoms Award: A green sea turtle takes a breath at the surface during sunset … [+] in Maui, Hawaii.

Second prize, Female Fifty Fathoms Award: A manta ray feeds in calm waters, Exmouth gulf, Western … [+] Australia.

Third prize, Female Fifty Fathoms Award: an endangered leopard shark swimming through the waters of … [+] the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.
“It is a sad realisation when an animal as harmless and as beautiful as the leopard shark is being driven to extinction because their fins are being sold in the shark-finning industry,” says the photographer.
Winner, Community Choice Award: Surfer Jack Robinson rides the famous break ‘The Right’, home to … [+] some of the heaviest waves in the world, Western Australia
Winner, Exploration Photographer of the Year: Speleothems cast long shadows at cenote Dos Pisos in … [+] Quintana Roo, Mexico
Second prize, Exploration Photographer of the Year: A rare deep water cusk eel larva in Florida.
Third prize, Exploration Photographer of the Year: A portrait of a squid, Bushrangers Bay, Australia … [+]
Winner, Ocean Adventure Photographer of the Year: Surfer Matahi Drollet catches a wave known as … [+] Teahupo’o in Tahiti, French Polynesia.
Highly Commended, Ocean Adventure Photographer of the Year: An American crocodile glides through the … [+] water at sunset at Gardens of the Queen, Cuba, a protected marine reserve since 1996.
Winner, Ocean Conservation Photographer of the Year : A dead moray eel caught on an abandoned … [+] fishing line in Bodrum, Turkey.
Highly Commended, Ocean Conservation Photographer of the Year: A lizardfish tries to eat a cigarette … [+] filter in Florida.
Winner, Young Ocean Photographer of the Year. Heron Island, Australia.
A green sea turtle hatchling cautiously surfaces for air, to a sky full of hungry birds.
Second prize, Young Ocean Photographer of the Year: A juvenile flying fish at Lady Elliot Island, … [+] Australia.
Winner, Collective Portfolio Award: Emperor Penguins – When both parents are foraging, their chicks … [+] gather in creches, or mini huddles.
Second prize, Collective Portfolio Award: A southern bobtail squid performs a spectacular display on … [+] the seabed at night in Wollongong Harbour, Australia.
“During a shallow night dive in Wollongong Harbour, NSW, Australia, I came across this adult male Southern Bobtail Squid hunting across the sand,” explains the photographer.
“As I approached, it seemed to take interest in its reflection in my camera lens port and began to dance with this curious and colourful display. It’s a behaviour I’ve only witness a couple of times in several years of diving here.”
Third Prize, Collective Portfolio Aware: A whale shark surrounded by a school of juvenile golden … [+] trevally on the Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.

I’m a dual Colombian-Luxembourgish freelance journalist, inveterate traveler and writer based in the world’s only Grand Duchy. I write a column on European affairs for

I’m a dual Colombian-Luxembourgish freelance journalist, inveterate traveler and writer based in the world’s only Grand Duchy. I write a column on European affairs for the editorial page of El Tiempo, Colombia’s main newspaper. I have been a columnist for Newsweek and written for, among others, the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune and Toronto Globe & Mail.

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