Making a splash! The extraordinary winners of the 2023 Ocean Photographer of the Year awards revealed… which do YOU think is the best?
- The annual contest has a mission to ‘shine a light on the beauty of the ocean and the threats it faces’
- Jialing Cai takes the top spot for an underwater shot taken in the aftermath of a nearby volcanic eruption
- READ MORE: Travel photographer reveals 15 incredible pictures of one of the world’s most remote regions
There’s incredible beauty to be found in the depths of the Earth’s oceans, seas and lakes, as these magnificent pictures reveal.
They’ve been honoured at the Ocean Photographer of the Year 2023 awards, an annual contest that has a mission to ‘shine a light on the beauty of the ocean and the threats it faces’.
Thousands of drone and underwater images were entered into the contest, with a heartwarming picture of fish taking refuge under a turtle and a striking shot of a pair of playful humpback whales among those that caught the judges’ attention.
Taking the title of Ocean Photographer of the Year 2023 is marine biologist and amateur photographer Jialing Cai with her picture of a paper nautilus – a species of the octopus family – off the coast of the Philippines. The shot, which is described as ‘stunning’ by the awards’ organisers, was taken in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption.
Want to see them all up close? All of this year’s imagery will be showcased at a five-month-long exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, Australia, that opens to the public on November 17.
Or simply scroll down to see 10 astonishing photographs that wowed the judges, including Cai’s winning shot…
Commended in the ‘Adventure’ category, this stunning picture shows a freediver gazing up at the intricate ice patterns below the surface of a frozen lake in Canada
This heartbreaking picture was taken by Sirachai Arunrugstichai in Thailand. It shows a giant manta ray entangled in ghost nets (abandoned fishing nets) – leading to large wounds – off the coast of Thailand. The ray repeatedly approached divers and allowed them to remove some of the nets. The picture is one of a series that takes the top prize in the ‘Portfolio’ category
In this jarring shot, fishermen carry a dead tiger shark to a notorious shark market in Lombok, Indonesia. Taken by Rike Brandt, it is highly commended in the ‘Conservation Impact’ category
Jarvis Smallman earns the title of Young Ocean Photographer of the Year 2023 with this moody shot, showing a bodyboarder paddling out to sea in Western Australia. Smallman notes how big storm clouds blocked the sun when he took the image, creating an ‘electric blue colour effect on the wave’
LEFT: Photographer Merche Llobera, whose portfolio of work is the winner of the Female Fifty Fathoms category, snared this fantastic photograph of a sea lion and a striped marlin moving in on a bait ball off the coast of Mexico. RIGHT: This captivating shot from Merche Llobera’s winning portfolio shows playful humpback whales swimming in the waters of the Turks and Caicos Islands
This striking photograph from Merche Llobera’s winning portfolio shows fish taking refuge under a turtle in Costa Rican waters
This devastating shot shows an injured whale swimming towards the ocean’s surface off the coast of Mexico. Its flukes (part of its tail) have been severely damaged from repeated entanglement. It was captured by Alvaro Lopez, who takes third place in the overall Ocean Photographer of the Year 2023 awards
Andrei Savin wins the silver medal in the awards with this mesmerising photograph of a crab sitting in the centre of a sea anemone as it sways in the ocean current off the coast of the Philippines
Now for the winner… this is the image that has earned Jialing Cai the title of Ocean Photographer of the Year 2023. Taken on a blackwater dive (a type of night-dive) after a volcanic eruption in the Philippines, it shows a paper nautilus drifting on a piece of ocean debris at night, surrounded by heavy sediment. Part of the octopus family, these creatures are found in ‘temperate and tropical waters’ of the open ocean and live ‘typically less than a year and feed on small molluscs, crustaceans and jellyfish,’ according to the Ocean Conservancy. Cai was inspired to start photographing on blackwater dives after learning about ‘diel vertical migration’, when zooplankton move from the deep ocean to the surface at night
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