Conservation Group the Ocean Conservancy has announced the winners of its 2022 photo contest. For the past 15 years, the non-profit organisation has hosted a photo competition with the aim of collecting imagery that not only makes for good pictures, but can also help to inspire appreciation and action on behalf of the world’s Oceans.
‘Photography is not just an art form. It is one of the most important and powerful mediums of communication we have,’ said renowned wildlife photographer and competition judge Daisy Gilardini. ‘It’s a universal language, understood by everyone, regardless of colour, creed, nationality or culture.
‘The power of images is about immediacy. Scientific studies have shown people remember 10 per cent of what they hear, 20 per cent of what they read, and 80 per cent of what they see,’ continued Ms Gilardini. ‘While science provides the data that explains issues and suggests solutions, photography symbolizes these issues. Science is the brain, while photography is the heart. We need both if we are to inspire the kind of behavioural changes we need to preserve and protect the environment through conservation.’
Thai photojournalist and marine biologist Shin Arunrugstichai, also one of the competition judges, said: ‘All of these photos have potential to make the audiences feel and care about the story that is being portrayed that may inspire their action, either as behavioural changes or involvement in conservation. Just as what happened to me 30 somethings years ago when I was a kid, where an underwater photograph from David Doubilet planted the seed, and led me to the career of marine biology and conservation photography nowadays.’
The competition is open to photographers from all backgrounds and experiences, from novices and professionals, with a $1,000 cash prise for the winning entry, selected by a panel of expert judges. Prizes are also awarded for category winners and photographs that the judges select for an honourable mention.
Judge’s Choice Winner: ‘Surprise’ by Alexandra Rose
From the photographer: ‘I have returned to this specific dive site (Los Islotes) several years in a row and determined that October is the best month for both sea lions and big schools of sardines. People are diving and snorkeling with these sea lions nearly every day for nine months of the year, so they are extremely accustomed to the presence of humans. I desperately wanted to capture one of these pinnipeds blasting through a ball of fish, but it all happens so quickly and, without planning, it’s easy to miss these shots. By the end of my dive, after watching this female sea lion swim figure eights around the same rocks, I finally timed it correctly and positioned myself right in the thick of the fish and waited for her to pop through. I think she was a bit surprised to see me!’
Human Impact Winner: ‘The Hunter’s Trash’ by Angela Farmer
From the photographer: ‘On one of my many swims with the Galápagos seals I was swimming along the wall of Champion Islet when I saw a young pup spinning and playing with something in the water. She began swimming faster and faster, coming closer with each subsequent pass, and showing me how to spin until I could’ve easily reached out and touched her. She was incredibly intrigued with something she had found in the water. She continued to spin as if she was teaching me how to twirl. The more playful I became, she would zoom beneath me like a torpedo, blowing bubbles and spinning in circles with her newfound toy. I dove down and tried to mimic her, only to realize she was mimicking me and had a piece of plastic in her mouth. The very thing I try to protect these beautiful creatures from had become a toy to her. I took the chance when the pup left the plastic for me to play with on my turn and hid it from her. It was heart-wrenching to hide the very thing I know was bringing her so much joy but killing so much sea life. I urge you to do your part in saving our ocean and sea life by only supporting brands that use alternative non-plastic packaging.’
Marine Wildlife Winner: ‘Rasta Jelly’ by Prue Wheeler
From the photographer: ‘Thysanostoma loriferum, locally renamed ‘Rasta Jelly.’ We came across this jellyfish a few miles off the back of the Ningaloo Reef. Its vibrant colour stuck out in the blue water as we passed it on a boat. Stretching over a metre-and-a-half and floating in the vast ocean it created its own miniature ecosystem, surrounded by an entourage of accompanying marine life.’
Ocean Stories Winner: ‘Garza al vuelo – Fly Ardea Alba’ by Diana de la Vega
From the photographer: ‘This photo, taken in the morning, shows the activity and the dynamics between marine birds and fishermen at Hollywood beach in Cartagena, one of the most touristic spots in town. In the back and on the lower edges you can see the boat and fishermen, even the men reeling in the net and the surrounding birds. In the front, a white heron (Ardea alba) captured in flight about to join the other birds circling the fishermen and waiting for any small fish or leftovers to be thrown their way. This is a daily spectacle during the fishing season, with the fish getting invariably smaller given the relentless and uncontrolled activity of men fishing with the huge net that captures all.’
Spectacular Seascapes Winner: ‘The End of the World’ by Kate McFadden
From the photographer: ‘Never have I seen a more gorgeous sunset over the ocean than out on Montauk in Long Island.’