Ocean Adventure Photographer of the Year 2021

Words by Oceanographic staff

Awarded to the photographer who most successfully translates our species’ connection with – and fascination of – life in, on and around the ocean. The ocean is full of adventure, whether you’re sailing across vast expanses of it, surfing in tight barrels on remote reefs or diving on pristine drop-offs.

WINNER: Ben Thouard, Tahiti, French Polynesia

Matahi Drollet catches a wave known as Teahupoo in Tahiti. “For this photo, I wanted  to translate the energy of waves like these,” says photographer Ben Thouard. “I used a slow shutter speed to create the motion blur effect, giving a sense of speed to the photo. Speed is key in surfing, but capturing that sense of speed in an image was a real challenge. I’ve shot so many images like this, but this is the best I’ve got! I call it ‘Full speed’.”

SECOND PLACE: Ben Thouard, Tahiti, French Polynesia 

The wave of Teahupo’o, as seen from below. “I’ve dedicated my time to shooting exclusively underwater these last five to six years,” says photographer Ben Thouard. “I’m so amazed by what is happening below this wave – a different world! I call this image ‘Underwater world’ as I felt everything was there in the image and it really describes how I feel down there, in another world.”

THIRD PLACE: Sebastien Pontoizeau, Réunion Island

A freediver duck dives to capture a photograph of a humpback whale. “I was there that day with two friends specialising in humpback whale experiences off Reunion Island,” says photographer Sebastien Pontoizeau. “My friend Jeremy Goncalves wanted to capture a portrait of this whale. It is at this moment that I was able to realise this image, which shows two universes.”

Enjoy all of this year’s stunning Ocean Adventure Photographer of the Year images at