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And the 2022 Photo Contest Winners Are …

These images were the best of the best

Alexandra-Rose_ Surprise
Ocean Conservancy's 2022 Judge's Choice Winner: Surprise by Alexandra Rose © Alexandra Rose

I am thrilled to share the official winners of Ocean Conservancy’s 2022 Photo Contest! We were absolutely dazzled by all the incredible submissions this year. Thank you for taking the time to enter your photographs and to vote for your favorites during our 2022 Photo Contest. You showed us massive whales and teeny tiny nudibranchs. You captured the ocean’s endless beauty and the many threats it faces. Thank you for sharing your images with us—we are so grateful.

And thank you to our esteemed panel of judges who selected our Judge’s Choice winner—this was no easy feat. The scoring came down to mere fractions of a point!

And now, the winners of Ocean Conservancy’s 2022 Photo Contest:

Judge’s Choice Winner: “Surprise” by Alexandra Rose

Alexandra-Rose_ Surprise
© 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!

Category Winners

  • Human Impact Winner: “The Hunter’s Trash” by Angela Farmer
A Galapagos fur seal swimming underwater, attempting to eat a plastic bag.
© Angela Farmer

From the photographer: On one of my many swims with the Galapagos 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
A vibrant pink and orange sea jelly surrounded by tiny yellow fish in crystal blue ocean water.
© Prue Wheeler

From the photographer:Thysanostoma loriferum locally renamed ‘Rasta Jelly.’ We came across this jellyfish a few mile 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 meter 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
A heron takes flight in the foreground, in the background a group of fishermen interact with other seabirds on shore.
© 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
Beautiful sunset over an ocean coastline horizon
© Kate McFadden

From the photographer: Never have I seen a more gorgeous sunset over the ocean than out on Montauk in Long Island.

Wildcard Winners: Honorable Mentions

  • “Sea otter with discarded can” by Shane Keena
Sea otter laying recumbent in water clutching a muddy tin can.
Ocean Conservancy 2022 Photo Contest Wildcard Winner: Sea otter with discarded can © Shane Keena
  • “Schooling Jacks and Turtle” by David Fleetham
A green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, an endangered species, is framed by a circling school of bigeye jacks, Caranx sexfasciatus, off the island of Bali, Indonesia.
© David Fleetham
  • “Larval Pearlfish” by Rajiv Bhambri
A beautiful larval pearl fish photographed during a Blackwater dive off the East coast of Florida.
© Rajiv Bhambri
  • “Gag or Throttle” by Carmen Cromer
A young gull holding a piece of plastic vaguely resembling a sardine.
© Carmen Cromer
  • “Wisdom” by Ronald Missick
Female loggerhead looking directly ahead as she nestles in a comfy resting spot under the water.
© Ronald Missick

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