Winners of the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024: photos

Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024

Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 newspress-collage-vdyh2rcu7-1708525725461 Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 The Underwater Photographer of the Year competition celebrates photography beneath the surface of the ocean, lakes, rivers and even swimming pools, attracting entries from all around the world. There are 13 categories, including Macro, Wide Angle, Behaviour and Wreck photography, as well as 4 categories for photos taken specifically in British waters. The winners were announced in an award ceremony in Mayfair, London, hosted by The Crown Estate. This year's UPY judges were experienced underwater photographers Peter Rowlands, Tobias Friedrich and Dr Alexander Mustard MBE. Alex Dawson/UPY2024 photographed-toughest-conditions-breath-hold-76889180 a skeleton of a minke whale under shallow waters in Greenland picked clean by marine invertebrates and fish, photographed by a breath-hold diver Alex Dawson, winner – Category 1. Wide Angle. Category Winner and Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024. "In eastern Greenland the local hunters bring their catch and share it among each other. From a stable population of over 100 000 minke whales in the North Atlantic the hunters of Tasiilaq typically take less than a dozen. The whale is pulled up on the beach during high tide and many families gather to cut the skin, blubber and the meat off at low tide. Almost all the whale is consumed, however the skeleton is pulled back into the sea by the next high tide and the remains can be found in shallow waters where various marine invertebrates and fish pick the bones clean." Suliman Alatiqi/UPY 2024 fieldwork-phi-phi-islands-thailand-76889621 A male macaque swimming in clear blue water with intense focus in Phi Phi Islands, Thailand. Suliman Alatiqi, third – Category 5. Portrait. "During fieldwork at Phi Phi Islands, Thailand, spanning several weeks, I focused my efforts on documenting the behaviour of the crab-eating macaques, in particularly their water forages. The macaques have adapted very well to living around the sea and will venture into the water for various reasons including transportation, scavenging, cooling down and playing. Highly efficient swimmers, they can dive for up to half a minute and can cover short distances faster than most humans. This photo offers a rare glimpse of the swimming movement of a male macaque." Becky Kagan Schott/UPY 2024 image-ive-trying-perfect-6-76889811 Wooden schooner wreck at Kyle Spangler illuminated by underwater lights in dark water with divers modeling. Becky Kagan Schott, runner up – Category 3. Wrecks. "This is an image I've been trying to perfect for almost 6 years. I've had various conditions on the wreck of the Kyle Spangler over the years and tried to get this shot several times. Once there was too much ambient light so the lights didn't punch through the water as much and it looked dull and other times the visibility wasn't good or the thermocline came down too far which cut the top of the 30 meter tall mast off. The wreck sits in about 60 meters of cold water in the Great Lakes so there is little time down there to shoot. This past summer we had stellar conditions and I'm grateful to Jesper Rydstron and Fredrik Christiansson for modeling. It was dark enough that the lights really created a ghostly image of this wooden schooner that sank in 1860." Rodolphe Guignard/UPY 2024 2011-bahamas-declared-waters-shark-76889644 a lemon shark swimming in the ocean waters at dusk near Tiger Beach in the Bahamas Rodolphe Guignard, third – Category 1. Wide Angle. "In 2011, the Bahamas declared its waters a "shark sanctuary". Off the island of Grand Bahama, I witnessed several unforgettable encounters. At dusk, several dozen lemon sharks rise from the depths and surround the dive boat. Perched on the swim-step with my body half-submerged, I set out to take split shots. On this day the sea was rough, it was almost dark, and the sharks were lively and very curious, not hesitating to come into contact with my housing! In these light conditions, I replaced my strobes with 2 headlamps to ensure continuous light. I used the burst mode coupled with a fast shutter speed to better freeze the movement. With a lot of patience and luck, I was able to capture some very close-up shots, and highlight the magnificent colours of the sunset. A striking face-to-face encounter!" Fabi Fregonesi/UPY 2024 2017-dive-site-25-meters-76889653 a school of fish forming the shape of a boat sail on top of a wreck Fabi Fregonesi, third – Category 3. Wrecks. "This wreck is called Virgo and is located in Recife in Brazil. It was sunk in 2017 to be a dive site and is 25 meters from another wreck called the Taurus. On this day, I started diving the Taurus and when I arrived at the Virgo, I saw this huge school of fish, which instantly reminded me of the shape of a boat sail. The feeling I had at the time was that the ship was ready to set sail, beginning its journey towards an unknown adventure (even though the original boat was not a sailing boat). I only had time to quickly imagine the photo I wanted, position myself and capture this moment. Seconds after that the fish formation changed. Wreck photos are beautiful, mysterious and generally make me feel nostalgic. For this one, I wanted it to give the feeling of happiness, movement and life!" Lisa Stengel/UPY 2024 photo-captures-instant-attack-spent-76889185 Mahi mahi fish attacking a bait ball in the ocean at Magdalena Bay, Mexico, captured by Lisa Stengel using a Sony a7iii with 16-35mm lens and natural sunlight. Lisa Stengel, winner – Category 8. Up & Coming. "The moment of ambush amidst a blur of evasion! This photo captures the instant of the attack. We spent an exciting week looking for bait balls, which provided many opportunities. The seasonâs unique water temperatures kept the marlin farther from reach, but brought an interesting phenomenon: an unprecedented amount of mahi mahi. I chose not to wear a hood and noticed a distinct noise from the bait ball every time the mahi would attempt to hit a target. If you listen closely, thereâs an enormous amount of sound in the ocean, especially surrounding bait balls. I honed in on the sound of mahi attacks and followed this unmistakeable sound with my camera. This technique, coupled with serendipitous conditions gave me the window of opportunity to capture this special moment." Rafael Fernandez Caballero/UPY 2024 76889182 A gray whale displaying a friendly gaze towards the camera from a boat, with ocean in the background. Rafael Fernandez Caballero, winner – Category 5. Portrait. "Encounters with gray whales in Pacific saltwater lagoons are extremely special. Known for their friendly and curious nature, gray whales often approach boats, allowing observers to witness distinctive behaviours like spy-hopping. This photo was taken from the boat, where the whale displayed a friendly gaze toward my camera, resembling a human look of curiosity and innocence. During their migration from the Bering Sea to Baja California, these lagoons serve as crucial havens and winter maternity wards. With only around 1300 gray whales left, responsible practices of ecotourism are key to protect these giants. These special moments highlight the beauty and intelligence of the whales, creating enduring memories for both observers and, surely, the curious whales themselves." JingGong Zhang/UPY 2024 photo-two-female-zoarchias-major-76889584 Two female Zoarchias major fish with spotted pattern inside their open mouths engaged in a fight. JingGong Zhang, runner up – Category 4. Behaviour. "This is a photo of two female Zoarchias major eelpouts in a fight. During the breeding season, in order to fight for a suitable spawning nest, not only the males will fight each other, but also the females, and inexplicably, even the males and females will sometimes fight each other. Usually, they can only be found in very few places of southern Japan. I thought long and hard before shooting, how to perfectly present their two biggest characteristics in the shot: their unique spotted pattern inside the mouth and that the mouth that can open up to 180 degrees! My choice was to shoot the fight in its most intense moment, using a snooted strobe to create the black background. I'm very honored to share this charming moment." Jon Anderson/UPY 2024 last-summer-popular-monterey-dive-76889616 a cormorant bird swimming underwater in a kelp forest in Monterey, California Jon Anderson, runner up – Category 5. Portrait. "Even more surprising than encountering a bird underwater is having the bird try to attack your camera while hunting for small fish in the kelp forest! Last summer at a popular Monterey dive site, the cormorants seemed to be more active and curious than usual. Knowing this, I planned a dive on a sunny afternoon hoping to catch a cormorant beneath the kelp forest pierced by the afternoon sun. I had numerous cormorants approach me, peck at my head and tank, follow me around, and try to eat my camera. This one paused for a moment, perhaps after the seeing its self-reflection in my dome port, allowing me to capture a head on portrait. Countless species including these cormorants depend on healthy kelp forests to thrive. Unfortunately, local kelp forests have declined by over 80% in size in the last decade due to warmer waters and unchecked predation by urchins." Nuno Sá/UPY 2024 golden-beaches-costa-da-caparica-76889189 group of people attempt to save a sperm whale that is beached on the sand, its body is crushed and it takes its last breath in Costa da Caparica, Portugal. Nuno Sá, category winner and 'Save Our Seas Foundation' Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2024. "The golden beaches of Costa da Caparica, just across the river from Lisbon were packed with sun seekers on this sunny day. And then something unusual caught their attention on the horizon. A massive sperm whale seemed to be struggling to swim as it slowly moved towards the coast. Soon its giant wounded body was passing by surfers and swimmers and reaching the shallow waters of the beach. But suddenly dozens of sun seekers start running towards the whale. Together they push and chant trying to help the giant back into the sea, as it slowly slaps its tail back and forth, and breathes heavily. Several hours later the whale takes its last breath, its body crushed by gravity as it lays on the sand. An estimated 20,000 whales are killed every year, and many more injured, after being struck by ships-and few people even realise that it happens." Martin Broen/UPY 2024 together-amazing-group-photographers-i-76889566 two tanks under water with lights Martin Broen, winner – Category 3. Wrecks. "Together with an amazing group of photographers I had the honor to be invited to compete in the 1st Aqaba underwater photo competition in Jordan, where a highlight is the underwater military museum. An unusual sight of war machines sunk in 15 to 28 meters of water and stationed along the reefs in tactical battle formation. I wanted to capture the symmetry of the Chieftain Tanks and strong presence of their 120mm guns, but the position where I could shoot that image with my fish-eye lens was occupied by a military ambulance. Therefore, I experimented with a 6 shot panorama from a point between the guns, which allowed me to recreate the virtual position further back, and achieve and elegant symmetry of the tanks, supported by the central focal point of my dive buddy in the back." Rafael Fernandez Caballero/UPY 2024 2023-due-warmer-water-year-76889181 A Bryde's whale catching a school of sardines in the Pacific ocean, with its ventral pleats open to filter the prey from the water. Rafael Fernandez Caballero, winner – Category 4. Behaviour. "I was fortunate enough to experience this unique spectacle in the open Pacific waters in Magdalena Bay at the end of 2023. Due to the warmer water this year caused by the climate phenomenon "El Niño", more species than ever joined this hunt. Bait balls of sardines attracted a variety of predators, but the main stars of the show, visiting Baja in perhaps larger numbers than ever, were the Bryde's whales. They patrolled the waters, searching for bait balls to get their bellies full of hundreds of kilograms of fish. This photo shows the very moment of attack, with the whale's ventral pleats wide open and filtering the prey from the water using their baleens after engulfing hundreds of kilograms of sardines in one bite — simply unforgettable." Jenny Stock/UPY 2024 loch-leven-scottish-dive-site-76889188 a carpet of brittlestars, a purple sea urchin, and a dominant star surrounded by an entanglement of brittlestars underwater in Loch Leven Jenny Stock, British Waters Macro winner and British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024. "Loch Leven is a Scottish dive site near Oban that can be can easily be accessed via a lay-by on the A82. Once there a walk down a steep leafy track will lead you into the ârefreshingâ water. As I descended into the dark green depths of the sea loch, on a dusk dive, I approached an area where my torch picked out the vivid colours of a living carpet of thousands of brittlestars. Captivated by the variety of hues and patterns each star took, I felt this was an incredible encounter with a species Iâd never seen before. I was happily snapping away, when I spotted this purple sea urchin and I got really excited. A dominant star next to this graphic invertebrate created a beautifully balanced pair, perfectly surrounded by an entanglement of the background brittlestars."