The Ocean Photography Awards Just Announced Their Finalists And The Photos Look Stunning

Photo by Nadia Aly, overall winner of the Ocean Photography Awards 2020

Oceanographic Magazine has announced the winners of the Ocean Photography Awards 2020, with Nadia Aly taking home the overall winner prize. Aly’s photo of an aggregation of mobula rays off the coast of Mexico is what got her the top prize.

Aly was among six photographers who won prizes across seven awards, whittled down from more than 3,000 initial competition submissions. The Ocean Photography Awards, in partnership with SeaLegacy and supported by Princess Yachts, is a celebration of our blue planet and a platform to shine a light on the threats facing the ocean.

More: Ocean Photography Awards, Instagram, Facebook h/t: boredpanda, mymodernmet

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Two sharks surf a wave at Red Bluff, Quobba Station, in remote Western Australia. “The huge bait ball the sharks were feeding on had moved very close to the shoreline,” says photographer Sean Scott, who was on an expedition spanning the full WA coast. “I got the long lens out and took a test shot of the waves, and the very next wave the sharks were in it. I didn’t see this happen again throughout the next two days that I was there.”

Nominee: Community Choice Award

One of the finalists vying for the Community Choice Award, Tobias Baumgaertner.

“The photo I took was one of those photos that you couldn’t have planned if you tried. I went there to take images of the penguin colony and intended to capture a photograph which shows the pressures that human settlement/infrastructure can have on wild animal populations,” he told Bored Panda.

“I spent 3 full nights with this particular penguin colony and was lucky enough to witness and capture this moment of love instead. With this moment unfolding in front of my eyes, I received more information about them from a Volunteer which I then disclosed in my first three Instagram posts about these two. It was a story of love and compassion and I am very happy that it has reached so many hearts around the world.”

Nominee: Community Choice Award

A humpback whale calf ‘breakdances’ in the warm waters of Tonga. Photographer Jono Allen captured this moment on the final day of a three-week trip searching for an intimate calf encounter. “We hadn’t had any luck during the entire season, and then all of a sudden on the last day we came across this wonderful and joyful calf,” says Allen.

Nominee: Exploration Photographer Of The Year

A freediver explores a cave in Tonga. Despite having visited this site more than 100 times, photographer Karim Iliya had never see the light quite like it was on this particular day: “It looked like he [the subject] was looking into another world. It made me think about exploration on this planet, and how you can even go somewhere you’ve already been and see it in a new way.”

Nominee: Young Photographer Of The Year

A common dolphin, between two realms. “As I hung over the bow of my family’s boat, camera in hand, I picked a young common dolphin to follow through my lens when suddenly it breaks the surface of the glassy water,” says 17-year-old photographer Kyla McLay. “The dolphin’s beak is barely piercing through the water’s surface, and a wave of froth sits on its back.”

Nominee: Community Choice Award

A Steller sea lion inquisitively peers into photographer Celia Kujala’s dome port off the coast of Hornby Island, British Columbia. “Steller sea lions are listed as near-threatened on the IUCN Red List,” says Kujala. “I hope this image makes people want to protect them and their ocean home.”

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Paddle boarders float above a reef at sunset. “This image is one of a series of images aimed at demonstrating the innate bond humans have with the ocean, whether we are physically in it or just floating on the surface,” says photographer Grant Thomas. “In creating this picture, timing was everything; I had to shoot exactly at low tide to be close enough to the reef, while simultaneously capturing the sun as it hit the horizon.”

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

A settling wunderpuss photographed at night during a blackwater dive in Anilao, Philippines. “Ninety percent of reef life starts out in this pelagic zone,” says photographer Henley Spiers. “During the day it stays relatively deep, and safe, only coming up to the surface at night to feed. I like to think the wunderpuss was chasing the shrimp that you also see in the bottom of the frame.”

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Grant Thomas is an award-winning underwater photographer, writer, and expedition guide with a fascination for the natural world. Originally from the United Kingdom, he moved to Asia to work as a scuba-diving instructor. His work has taken him around the world, from the warm tropical waters of Indonesia to the glacier-covered landscape of the Arctic.

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Grant Thomas is an award-winning underwater photographer, writer, and expedition guide with a fascination for the natural world. Originally from the United Kingdom, he moved to Asia to work as a scuba-diving instructor. His work has taken him around the world, from the warm tropical waters of Indonesia to the glacier-covered landscape of the Arctic.

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Orcas surf rough water in Norway. “This moment took place above the Arctic Circle,” says photographer Todd Thimios, “A combination of impossible circumstances and years in the Arctic allowed for this very brief moment to come together – in borderline dangerous weather and fading light.”

Nominee: Conservation Photographer Of The Year

A starving polar bear looks out to sea, waiting for the ice to return. “I was scouting the shoreline when I saw the polar bear on a distant cliff,” says photographer Martin Berg. “The summer had been unusually warm, and the pack ice was further north. Many polar bears, including this one, were stranded ashore.”

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

A freediving instructor waits for their student to return from a dive below Cenote Angelita’s microbial cloud – a cloud that separates the light-filled freshwater above and the dark saline water below. “The microbial cloud is so thick that it appears to be a floor,” says photographer Jason Gulley, “and visibility inside it is almost zero. Visibility improves a little as you re-emerge into the pitch black saline water below.”

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Marlin and sea lions work a bait ball. “Each year in autumn, mackerel and sardines migrate south along the coast of the Californian Peninsula in Mexico,” says photographer Hannes Klostermann. “They are followed by an armada of predators, the most magnificent of which is the striped marlin. California sea lions, however, often compete with them for feeding opportunities.”

Nominee: Community Choice Award

Predator and prey, photographed off the coast of Jupiter, Florida. “The sun was going down and the lighting was epic,” says photographer Tanner Mansell. “Evening thunderclouds were building, but light rays were still poking through here and there. Everything came together. When bull sharks attack, they extend their jaws. It was exciting to try to get that moment on camera. This is one of my all-time favourite moments, and all-time favourite shots.”

Nominee: Exploration Photographer Of The Year

Penguins march through heavy snowfall and strong winds in St Andrew’s Bay, South Georgia, Antarctica. Photographer Ben Cranke spent a total of 50 hours across five days at this location, accessed via a zodiac from a small yacht. He captured this image on the final day of his expedition.

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Grant Thomas is an award-winning underwater photographer, writer, and expedition guide with a fascination for the natural world. Originally from the United Kingdom, he moved to Asia to work as a scuba-diving instructor. His work has taken him around the world, from the warm tropical waters of Indonesia to the glacier-covered landscape of the Arctic.

Nominee: Conservation Photographer Of The Year

A hermit crab crawls atop a pile of plastic in a shell made from manmade waste. Photographed on the small island of Thanburudhoo in the Maldives, photographer Matt Sharp hopes his image communicates the direct impact plastic pollution is having on the natural world: “We were so shocked at the plastic waste littering the island. And then I saw this hermit crab crawling through the knee-deep plastic. It demonstrates the scale of the problem.”

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Nadia Aly is an award-winning wildlife photographer, with a focus on underwater marine life. Her primary goal is to educate people about the diverse populations of sea creatures that exist in the ocean. She hopes her photography can raise awareness and interest in supporting efforts to conserve the ocean and its inhabitants.

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Henley Spiers is an award-winning photographer who has featured regularly in the international press, including The Sunday Times and Der Spiegel, as well as multiple magazine covers. In 2019, he co-authored Black is the New Blue Vol. II, showcasing blackwater diving. His latest book, the Guide to Cebu, was co-written with his wife and frequent collaborator, Jade. Sought after as a teacher and guide, Henley also leads photographic trips to see incredible underwater wildlife encounters around the globe.

Nominee: Exploration Photographer Of The Year

Two technical divers descend into the Blue Abyss, Mexico. This site is accessed by an hour-long underwater scooter ride and a 20-minute swim through a shallow cave system. “You pop through a hole and suddenly the floor drops out to around 70m,” says photographer SJ Bennett. The two divers pictured are at depths of approximately 15m and 30m deep.

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Henley Spiers is an award-winning photographer who has featured regularly in the international press, including The Sunday Times and Der Spiegel, as well as multiple magazine covers. In 2019, he co-authored Black is the New Blue Vol. II, showcasing blackwater diving. His latest book, the Guide to Cebu, was co-written with his wife and frequent collaborator, Jade. Sought after as a teacher and guide, Henley also leads photographic trips to see incredible underwater wildlife encounters around the globe.

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

A remora shifts position on a humpback whale. Photographer Craig Parry was hoping to capture a close-up portrait of the whale’s eye when a suckerfish decided to move, providing him with a rare opportunity for a dynamic little-and-large behavioural shot. He has been visiting Vava’u, Tonga, for six years, spending more than 400 hours in the water in search of the perfect eye contact shot.

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

A surfer at the remote Shipstern Bluff in Tasmania. “Gigantic swells have battered the towering cliffs at Shipstern for millennia,” says photographer Lance Morgan. “The fractured rock walls have slowly succumbed to the wind and waves, and piece by piece, created one of the most dangerous waves in the world. This part of the world is raw, rugged and cold, and help is a long way away.”

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Shane Gross is a Canadian marine conservation photojournalist and Emerging League member of the International League of Conservation Photographers. He is currently based in The Bahamas working to conserve queen conch, Nassau grouper, seagrass and mangrove habitats, among others. Shane’s work has been recognised by the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Underwater Photographer of the Year, Nature Photographer of the Year and many others. He is widely published around the world and his first book, Bahamas Underwater, is out soon.

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Florian is an award-winning wildlife photographer who works in the polar regions. He started his photographic career in the French Navy as a photo reporter. His passion for nature and later the High Arctic led him to pursue personal projects and his dreams of using his love for nature to document the polar regions. By using drones, Florian aspires to bring a new perspective to life in these remote places.

Nominee: Conservation Photographer Of The Year

Survivor. A blue shark clearly displays two hooks protruding from its mouth, two lucky escapes. Photographed off the coast of Rhode Island, photographer Ron Watkins says, “I’d dived with blue sharks off the coast of Southern California in similar conditions, but none ever had hooks like this shark”.

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Swimmer and environmental activist Lewis Pugh swimming off Antarctica. “We were deep into the Antarctic Peninsula for Lewis’s long distance swim,” says Olle Nordell, expedition photographer for the Lewis Pugh Foundation. “After scouting the bay for a good spot, I positioned myself in a zodiac. My window was small. As Lewis passed me, I framed him with the blue fringe of the glacier.”

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

A silky shark in Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen marine reserve. “I was trying to capture the crazy action of diving with silky sharks in this area,” says photographer Ron Watkins. “I set my shutter speed to 1/10th of a second and aperture to F/16 and spun the camera as the shark quickly approached to imply motion in the photograph.”

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