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Ocean Currents

Announcing the 2021 Photo Contest Winners

See the jaw-dropping winners of this year’s photo contest

Celestial Penguin
The 2021 Photo Contest Coastlines & Seascape Winner, "Celestial Penguin" © Kimball Chen

Thank you for taking the time to enter your photographs and vote for your favorites during our 2021 Photo Contest this summer. I am blown away by the entries and I hope you enjoyed seeing all the incredible submissions we received from around the world.

You showed us colorful sunsets, massive whales and teeny tiny nudibranchs. You captured both the ocean’s beauty and the many threats that it’s facing. Thank you for sharing your images with us—we are so grateful.

Of all the fin-tastic submissions, there were some that stood out. Our Judge’s Choice winner was selected by our esteemed panel of judges and our category winners were selected by YOU, our voters.

Without further delay, here are our 2021 Photo Contest winners.

Judges’ Choice Winner: “Bubble Lion” by Matthew Bagley

sea lion underwater with bubbles
© Matt Bagley

Photographer Note: “Photography has the ability to affect change by bringing awareness to the beauty that lies beneath. I want everyone to have the chance now and in the future to experience these feelings; the beautiful connections with the natural underwater world.” Port Lincoln, South Australia, Australia

Up Close & Personal Winner: “Balloonfish” by Daryl Duda

balloonfish poking out of hole in rock
The 2021 Photo Contest Up Close & Personal Winner, "Balloonfish" © Daryl Duda

Photographer Note: “The oceans comprise 70% of the Earth and provide food and oxygen to its inhabitants. If we don’t keep our oceans healthy, we cut off our lifeblood.” Key Largo, Florida, United States

Coastlines & Seascape Winner: “Celestial Penguin” by Kimball Chen

penguin stands on rock at night with stars
The 2021 Photo Contest Coastlines & Seascape Winner, "Celestial Penguin" © Kimball Chen

Photographer Note: “It is exciting that wildlife photography has been an ever-increasing tool to connect with other humans about both images and stories that fuel important conversations and awareness of our one ocean.  I am passionate about finding ways that humans can forge a new and healthier relationship with our ocean and its creatures.” Curio Bay, South Island, New Zealand

Marine Wildlife Winner: “Baby Seahorse” by Ängela Leonor

baby seahorse swimming
The 2021 Photo Contest Marine Wildlife Winner, "Baby Seahorse" © Ängela Leonor

Photographer Note: “I like the sea because it teaches you amazing things. My grandpa passed away and he always worked sailing on ships and cruises, so every time I look to the horizon‚ it’s like he is never gone.” Valencia, Spain

Human Impact Winner: “Recreational Bycatch” by Nicholas DeNezzo

sea lion with fishing line
The 2021 Photo Contest Human Impact Winner, "Recreational Bycatch" © Nicholas Denuzzo

Photographer Note: “I’ve always been fascinated with the diversity and abundance of life in the ocean, and have worked toward protecting this valuable resource. As a wildlife rehabilitation specialist, I work every day to help protect the animals that are impacted by human influence, like this entangled sea lion.” San Diego, California, United States

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos and voted—you helped make this photo contest a success. And a mighty thanks to our expert judges: Benny Blanco, Lewis Burnett, Jasmin Graham, Acacia Johnson and Andrew Wu. Enjoy the contest’s honorable mentions below and we’ll sea you next year!

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