The underwater world has never looked so magical, mysterious and fascinating.
These photos are some of the most impressive medalists in the world Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 Competition.
They show how impressive Mother Nature can be in water mode – and how fragile she is. And they also highlight the skill and determination of the world’s best underwater snappers who brave underwater caves and shark infested reefs to bring us unforgettable images that took several years to complete.
The overall winner is Renee Capozzola from California, whose picture of blacktip reef sharks cruising among seagulls at sunset in French Polynesia left the judges jaw on the ground. It triumphed over 4,500 underwater images submitted by photographers in 68 countries.
Glasgow’s Mark Kirkland was named British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 for his stunning picture of a frog in a pond near his home.
The judges said, “We hope that this year’s stunning collection of winning images will provide a welcome escape and opportunity to reconnect with the marine life for anyone who enjoys them.” Scroll down to select MailOnline Travel.
This stunning image, ranked third in the compact camera category, was captured by Spanish photographer Isaias Cruz off the coast of Bermeo in the Basque Country. He said, “This picture was taken during a shark dive in the summer. This pelagic beam, surrounded by three blue sharks, seemed to be controlling the bait. It was a very rare encounter. This animal had never been seen in these waters, and I had never seen this animal either. ‘The judges praised the photo for its “beautifully timed symmetry”
German photographer Tobias Friedrich won gold in the wrecks category thanks to this breathtaking photo, which was taken near Nassau in the Bahamas. The judges said, “Pictures pop out for several reasons; David and Goliath scale, enlarge, and unambiguously, to name just three, and this picture has all of that and more. If you want to learn the secret formula for a classic wreck shot, look no further. ‘Tobias said, “This wreck was completely new to me and a big surprise when we went down as the bow hangs almost entirely over a sandy overhang.”
American snapper Karim Iliya took the highest podium in the behavior category thanks to this amazing image of a striped marlin on a high-speed hunt in Mexico. He said, “This is a terrible scene for the little fish fleeing for their lives while a striped marlin chases them. The smallest mistake means life or death. There are often birds hunting from above and sometimes a dozen other marlin and sea lions attacking from all sides. The marlin is one of the fastest fish in the sea, a terrible predator for a small fish in the great blue desert. I went to Mexico to document this feeding madness, but I didn’t expect a hunt so fast, almost too fast for my brain to process. For a brief moment this scene unfolded in front of me and I had to rely on all my instincts and practice underwater to take this picture. I used natural light and stayed on the edge of the bait ball to minimize interference. The hunt for wild animals is one of the greatest natural spectacles. ‘
Second place in the behavioral category is claimed by Chinese photographer JingGong Zhang for this picture of a fish game off the coast of Wakayama, Japan. JingGong said, ‘This is a picture of Blenny in a fight. It is a type of chaenopsid blenny found in Japan and South Korea. The most noticeable feature is the very cool hairstyle, which is often referred to as punk blenny or mohican blenny. In fact, this type of blenny fight scene is very rare because they usually just stay in hiding and don’t interact with other people. But during the breeding season, when an area is too densely populated, the blenny will fight fierce battles for a partner, and those battles are often quickly resolved. Blenny is one of my favorite projects. From getting information to waiting and searching, it took me three years at times to shoot this scene. I want to thank my Japanese friends for helping me with this process. At the same time, I feel very honored to share this magical moment. ‘
This eye-catching picture shows a larval lionfish off the coast of Florida – and it earned US photographer Steven Kovacs the silver medal in the macro category. He said, “Floating close to the surface in over 700 feet of water at night, I came across this 1-inch larval lionfish on a blackwater dive off the coast of Florida. This person showed a nicer coloration than usual, so I set out to capture their full-size fins. It’s a challenging task, not only because they avoid bright lights and usually try to escape, but also because in a defensive stance they very sporadically and only briefly fully flare their fins. I was very lucky to be able to capture this special individual in all his glory. ‘
Check out the winner of the British Waters Compact category. Shot by British photographer Ian Wade, it shows a swan feeding in St George Park in Bristol. How did Mr Wade take that remarkable picture? By throwing his GoPro into the water. He said, “I decided to put a small weight on the back of my GoPro and toss it into the lake a short distance from me. The light weight would mean the GoPro would always fall on its back so I could shoot at an almost vertical angle. I connected the GoPro to my phone so I could fire pictures remotely. The GoPro that hit the water had caught the swans’ interest and they swam over. I waited for one of the swans to be in the correct position with their head under the water and took a quick series of images that allowed me to take this picture. ‘The judges described the picture as “beautiful”
LEFT: The Australian photographer Diana Fernie wins first prize in the “Black and White” category with this breathtaking picture, which was taken in the Solomon Islands. The judges said, “Great use of all tones from deep black to clean white. The composition is classic and the decision to switch to black and white was a good choice. ‘RIGHT: This amazing image by Japanese photographer Ryohei Ito, captured off the coast of Tateyama, Japan, won first prize in the portrait category. Ryohei said, “As the Asian sheep’s head wrasse gets older, it changes sex from female to male and at the same time develops a large lump on its head. I thought about the lighting and composition so that the image of the bump and powerful face could be conveyed and challenged many times. He lives in a shrine underwater and looks like a protective deity. I want to thank my teacher, Keigo Kawamura, for teaching me how to photograph underwater and Hiroyuki Arakawa for guiding me. ‘
The judges were delighted with this picture taken by American photographer Martin Broen in a section of an underground river in Mexico called Cenote Monkey Dust. When they were awarded the second place prize in the “Wide Angle” category, they said: “The very best cenote pictures are often noticed at UPY. But Martin’s picture raises the bar significantly in terms of both stunning beauty and technical performance. This is a place few people can reach. So it’s an amazing feat to get there and then produce such a sophisticated piece of photography in the dark, deep underground and underwater. ‘
This is the wide angle category winner – and the overall winner picture. It was taken by US photographer Renee Capozzola off the coast of Moorea in French Polynesia. The judges said, “A sunset ballet of reef sharks and sea birds in a quiet corner of the Pacific Ocean is a deserved Underwater Photographer of 2021 winner. This is a picture of hope and a look at how the ocean can be if we give it one Give a chance and thrive with spectacular life both below and above the surface. ‘Renee said, “The sharks were given a beautiful composition, and I was lucky with the birds too. As many species of shark are critically endangered, I hope that pictures of these beautiful animals will help promote their conservation. ‘
The Briton Grant Thomas takes second place in the wreck category with this picture off Jordan’s coast. It shows a piece of military hardware that was purposely sunk for divers to explore. Judge Martin Edge said, “This is one of my favorite photos of the entire competition. As soon as I saw this shot, I was intrigued by the complexity of the lighting, the staging, and pretty much everything else. ‘
A basking shark swallows microscopic plankton off the coast of the Isle of Coll in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The picture made British photographer Mark Kirkland runner-up in the “Wide Angle of British Waters” category. The judges said, “This picture raises the bar for basking shark shots. So much has to be done right to get such a shot that it seems impossible, but we now have evidence. It is possible and absolutely fantastic. ‘Mr Kirkland announced that it was taking two years to plan the recording. During this time he experimented with different lenses and filters
This eye-catching picture of a hairy panda goby off the Indonesian coast is runner-up in the compact category. The photographer behind it, Malaysian ManBd, said the fish was very shy and took a long time to get its head out. The judges said, “A fantastic and challenging subject, expertly photographed with the innovation you would expect from a former UPY Up & Coming Award winner.”
British-born photographer SJ Alice Bennett grabs two titles with this picture taken in a water-filled Mexican cave: “Aspiring Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021” and “Most Promising British Underwater Photographer 2021”. The jury said: “We always value a fresh vision in the Up & Coming category. The combination of incredible lighting and shallow depth of field gives this image originality and captures the spirit of adventure the photographer was aiming for.”
Der Meeresschutzfotograf des Jahres 2021 ist Karim Iliya für dieses Bild einer sehr überfüllten Insel vor der Küste der Guna Yala-Region in Panama. Die Richter sagten: „Eine starke visuelle Erinnerung daran, wie wir Menschen Land überbevölkern und vollständig entwickeln und dann die umliegende empfindliche Umgebung überfischen. Dieses Bild fängt dieses unnatürliche und nicht nachhaltige Ungleichgewicht perfekt ein. ‘
Verbeugen Sie sich, Mr. Malcolm Nimmo. Dieser britische Fotograf hat die Kategorie “British Waters Macro” mit diesem unglaublichen Bild eines variablen Blenny-Fisches gewonnen, der in den Gewässern des Plymouth Sound aufgenommen wurde. Die Richter sagten: „Ein wunderschönes britisches Fischporträt. Alles an diesem Bild ist perfekt. ‘ Hat dieser Fisch etwas von den Jar Jar Binks? Wir denken schon
Mark Kirkland has been named British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 – and the British waters wide angle category winner – for this picture, which he took close to his home in Glasgow. Mr Kirkland said: ‘This small muddy pond is an unlikely haven for wildlife, squeezed between a housing estate, supermarket and factory. But for a few nights each year, while the city sleeps, it comes alive with frogs. This frame was the culmination of 25 hours over four winter nights of lying stationary in darkness. Was it time well spent? Absolutely!’ Judge Peter Rowland said: ‘I honestly think that the appearance of this image will go down in the history of underwater photography as a defining moment. Perfect yet flawed, natural in urban. I think it is a masterpiece. Savour it’