Ocean Exploration Photographer of the Year 2021

Words by Oceanographic staff

Awarded to the photographer who most dramatically brings the rawness of ocean exploration to life. Submissions have included record-making ocean firsts, multidisciplinary missions to map deep cave systems and scientific expeditions to discover unknown places or species.

WINNER: Martin Broen, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Speleothems cast long shadows at cenote Dos Pisos. “This photograph captures the magic feeling of flying through a labyrinth of fragile formations that go from ceiling to floor,” says photographer Martin Broen. “This is a unique environment that took thousands of years to form, that hides hours away from the closest exit and is only illuminated by the light you carry with you.”

SECOND PLACE: Steven Kovacs, Florida, USA

A rare deep water Cusk Eel larva. “This eel is suspected to be Acanthonus armatus but has not been definitively verified,” says photographer Steven Kovacs. “The photograph was taken about seven miles off the coast of Palm Beach, Florida during a blackwater dive at about 10 metres while drifting in waters more than 200 metres deep.”

Southern Calamari (Sepioteuthis australis) Squid at night in Bushrangers Bay, NSW Australia.

THIRD PLACE: Matty Smith, Bushrangers Bay, Australia

Squid portrait. “I had spent several winters exploring various inland waters and bays at night looking for squid to photograph,” says photographer Matty Smith. “I find their behaviour and colourings mesmerising. I wanted to produce images that really captured their personality. I found by lying on my back on the sand on the seabed and shooting from below almost anthropomorphises their faces and reveals a character rarely seen.”

See all of this year’s Ocean Exploration Photographer of the Year images at www.oceanphotographyawards.com.