GALLERY: Incredible images from the 2021 Ocean Photography Award winners

The winners of the 2021 Ocean Photography Awards have been announced and they will take your breath away.

6 mins

The winners of the 2021 Ocean Photography Awards have been announced with Aimee Jan declared the Ocean Photographer of the Year for her mesmerising image of a green turtle surrounded by glass fish on Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia.

The Ocean Photography Awards have one simple mission: to shine a light on the beauty of the ocean and the threats it faces. Photographers from around the world took the judges on freediving journeys with humpback whales and turtles to adrenaline-soaked shots of surfers riding rainbow-covered waves. They also reminded them that the ocean’s perils are multitude.

2021 also saw 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.

You’ll find Renee’s winning entry – and those of all the other winners – below.

WINNER: Ocean Photographer of the Year

(Aimee Jan/Ocean Photography Awards)

(Aimee Jan/Ocean Photography Awards)

Aimee Jan

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’.”

RUNNER-UP: Ocean Photographer of the Year

(Henley Spiers/Ocean Photography Awards)

(Henley Spiers/Ocean Photography Awards)

Henley Spiers

Isla of Noss, Shetland, UK

“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.”

THIRD: Ocean Photographer of the Year

(Matty Smith/Ocean Photography Awards)

(Matty Smith/Ocean Photography Awards)

Matty Smith

Lissenung Island, Papua New Guinea

“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.”

WINNER: Female Fifty Fathoms Award

(Renee Capozzola/Ocean Photography Awards)

(Renee Capozzola/Ocean Photography Awards)

Renee Capozzola

Mo'orea, French Polynesia

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.”

WINNER: Collective Portfolio Award

(Stefan Christmann/Ocean Photography Awards)

(Stefan Christmann/Ocean Photography Awards)

Stefan Christmann


Stefan’s portfolio captured the life of Emperor penguins in Antarctica. This photo captures chicks gathering in creches, or mini huddles, to keep warm while their parents are out foraging.

WINNER: Community Choice Award

(Phil de Glanville/Ocean Photography Awards)

(Phil de Glanville/Ocean Photography Awards)

Phil de Glanville

Denmark, Western Australia

Surfer Jack Robinson rides the famous break known as ‘The Right’, home to some of the heaviest waves in the world.

WINNER: Ocean Conservation Photographer of the Year

(Kerim Sabuncuoglu/Ocean Photography Awards)

(Kerim Sabuncuoglu/Ocean Photography Awards)

Kerim Sabuncuoglu

Bodrum, Turkey

A dead moray eel on an abandoned fishing line. 

WINNER: Exploration Photographer of the Year

(Martin Broen/Ocean Photography Awards)

(Martin Broen/Ocean Photography Awards)

Martin Broen

Quintana Roo, Mexico

Speleothems cast long shadows at cenote Dos Pisos. 

WINNER: Young Ocean Photographer of the Year

(Hannah Le Leu/Ocean Photography Awards)

(Hannah Le Leu/Ocean Photography Awards)

Hannah Le Leu

Heron Island, Australia

A green sea turtle hatchling cautiously surfaces for air, to a sky full of hungry birds. 

A free, outdoor public exhibition featuring the winner will be held alongside the River Thames, on the Queen’s Walk near Tower Bridge. It will be open to the public from September 17, 2021. It will run for one month, closing on October 17, 2021. For more information visit Ocean Photography

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