Ocean Photographer of the Year 2021 Announced

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Princess Yachts, the UK’s largest yacht manufacturer, is delighted to announce that Ningaloo Coast-based photographer, Aimee Jan, is the Ocean Photographer of the Year 2021.

Aimee’s beautiful image of a green sea turtle surrounded by glass fish (cover photo in article) 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 2021, 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.’

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

Ocean Photographer of the Year 2021, 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.’

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.

Female Fifty Fathoms Award, 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.’

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.

Young Ocean Photographer of the Year, winner, Hannah Le Leu. A green sea turtle hatchling cautiously surfaces for air, to a sky full of hungry birds.

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.’

Exploration Photographer of the Year, winner, Martin Broen. Speleothems cast long shadows at cenote Dos Pisos.

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.’

Collective Portofolio Award, winner, Stefan Christmann. Male emperor penguins huddling during polar night, to stay warm as a group.

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, winner, Ben Thouard. Surfer Matahi Drollet catches a wave known as Teahupo’o in Tahiti.
Ocean Conservation Photographer of the Year, winner, Kerim Sabuncuoglu. A dead moray eel on an abandoned fishing line.

Cover photo Aimee Jan

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