Winners of the Ocean Photography Awards 2021 have been announced, with Aimee Jan bagging the top honour for her image of 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,” Ms Jan said of her image, taken in Australia. “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’.” Aimee Jan was named Ocean Photographer of the Year.
Besides Ocean Photographer of the Year, there were seven other awards in the competition. Henley Spiers took home the second prize for her picture of seabirds, while the third place went to Matty Smith for his stunning shot of a turtle hatchling. The winners are on display as part of an exhibition in London, UK.
“Diving in amidst the barrage of gannets, I witness the violent synchronicity of these impressive seabirds as they embark on fishing dives,” said 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.”
A hawksbill turtle hatchling just 3.5cm long and a few minutes old takes its first swim in Matty Smith’s photograph. “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,” the photographer revealed.
Ben Thouard won the Ocean Adventure Photographer of the Year prize for his shot of a surfer catching a wave known as Teahupo’o in Tahiti.
In the Community Choice Award category, people voted for Phil de Glanville and his picture of Surfer Jack Robinson riding “the famous break known as ‘The Right’, home to some of the heaviest waves in the world.”
The title of Ocean Conservation Photographer of the Year went to Kerim Sabuncuoglu for a picture of a dead moray eel on an abandoned fishing line in Turkey.
Galice Hoarau won second place in the Conservation category for a photo of a gull caught on a ghost fishing line.
Martin Broen’s hypnotic shot of Speleothems casting long shadows at cenote Dos Pisos won him Exploration Photographer of the Year.
Steven Kovacs photographed a rare deep water cusk eel larva to take home the second prize.
The Female Fifty Fathoms Award was won by 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,” she said.
Meanwhile, Hannah Le Leu was named Young Ocean Photographer of the Year. “A green sea turtle hatchling cautiously surfaces for air, to a sky full of hungry birds,” is how she described her photo.