2023 Photo Contest Winners Announced

Rachel Moore claims Judge’s Choice prize with Synchrony in Motion

Ocean Conservancy’s Annual Photo Contest has ended, and it’s safe to say that this was our best yet. Hundreds of you sent breathtaking ocean photos, and we are so impressed. Thank you for sharing your images with us—we are so grateful.

We are thrilled to announce our 2023 Photo Contest winners!

Judge’s Choice Winner:
Synchrony in Motion by Rachel Moore

3 generations of humpback whales glide gracefully just beneath the blue ocean's surface. Beams of sunlight shine down on them through the waves breaking above.

A once-in-a-lifetime encounter with humpback whales in the crystal-clear waters of French Polynesia. While drifting miles offshore looking for whales this trio, mother, calf and male escort came in for a close pass in perfect synchrony.” — Rachel Moore

Born and raised by the sea, the ocean was Rachel’s first love. At just seven years old, she knew she wanted to become a diver and explore the world hidden below the surface. For the past seven years, Rachel has slowly been sailing around the world on her boat Agape, capturing the wild beauty of our planet to inspire others to protect and conserve our precious ocean. Follow along Rachel’s adventures on Instagram at @moore_rachel.

What Our Judges Had to Say

  • “What can be better than sharing the ocean with humpback whales? Likely very little. These three stacked humpbacks create an engaging moment of living art complete with sunbeams illuminating them like spotlights from above. I’m certain this was nothing short of a magical moment in time.” – Alex Rose
  • “Harmony, respect, fragility and the power of nature, generations embodied in an image, with how vast the ocean is but at the same time the great challenge of safeguarding it due to the impact that human beings have made.” – Karen Fuentes
  • “…the lighting and composition are incredible.” – David Coffey

Category Winners

The winners of our photo contest categories—Human Impact, Marine Wildlife and Spectacular Seascapes—were selected by ocean lovers like you who came out in droves to vote for their favorite photos. Thank you to everyone who voted and shared the contest with others.

Human Impact Winner:
Choked Up by Nicholas DeNezzo

Bystanders crowd and look on an California sea lion entangled with fishing line.

“Bystanders crowd and look on at an entangled California sea lion. As a rescue professional, this scene is a part of our everyday life, in which we deal with the fishing gear, trash pollution and other human impacts affecting our local marine life.” — Nicholas DeNezzo

Follow Nicholas DeNezzo on his website, www.nicholasdenezzo.com, and Instagram, @nickipedia_.

Marine Wildlife Winner:
Climate Endurance by Jenny Wong

A polar bear mother and two cubs swim atop deep blue ocean waters in the Arctic Bay.

“Taken August 2, 2021 in Admiralty Inlet, just a short boat ride from the small hamlet of Arctic Bay. We were standing on top of a cliff with a 500mm lens, a polar bear mother and her two cubs swim by. Well adapted for the ocean, adult polar bears though taxing on energy is very well equipped to navigate the waterstheir young cubs not so much. As the open water season gets longer in the Arctic, mothers will struggle to not only feed herself but also her young, and long commutes to safety or better hunting grounds becomes an arduous journey for their future.” — Jenny Wong

Follow Jenny Wong on her website, www.JennWong.ca, and Instagram @jdubcaptures.

Spectacular Seascapes:
The Shallows by Maximilian Holba

A bright blue sea star sits among the reef, which is awakening with small fish swirling around and about as light shines down from the ocean surface.

“Simple bliss: On a calm early morning, when the reef awakens from its nightly slumber, and small fish are again swirling around and about, making you feel like you are in a tropical aquarium, you can be in the moment and soak in the wonderful cornucopia of marine life, to forget for just one brief moment, all the unfortunate truths of the climate’s peril and the ocean’s pollution…” — Maximilian Holba

Follow Maximilian Holba on his website, https://maxholba.com/, and on Instagram @maxbeyondthesea.

Staff Favorites

Thank you to our judges and to all who participated, voted, shared and submitted photos—you truly made this year’s contest a success. Congratulations to ALL our entrants, and we hope to see you next year for our 2024 contest.

Our work is focused on solving some of the greatest threats facing our ocean today. We bring people, science and policy together to champion innovative solutions and fight for a sustainable ocean.
Read more
View Current Posts
Back to Top Up Arrow