Young Ocean Photographer of the Year 2021

Words by Oceanographic staff

This award was open to all photographers 21 years of age or under on July 31, 2021. It has been awarded to a young photographer who shows photographic ability beyond her years as well as clear ocean literacy – an understanding of what her subject matter is, why her photograph is important and the message the image is trying to convey.

Congratulations to our winner…

WINNER: Hannah Le Leu, Heron Island, Australia 

A green sea turtle hatchling cautiously surfaces for air, to a sky full of hungry birds. “Against all odds, this hatchling must battle through the conditions of a raging storm whilst evading predators,” says photographer Hannah Le Leu. “The tropical storm made it difficult to capture this image, but perfectly symbolises the message I wanted to convey of the tumultuous journey all baby turtles must embark on, and why they only have a 1 in 1,000 chance of survival.”

SECOND PLACE: Jack McKee, Lady Elliot Island, Australia

A juvenile flying fish. “This tiny flying fish was drifting along just below the ocean surface,” says photographer Jack McKee. “I was immediately drawn to its amazing wing-like fins. I held my camera beneath it and shot upwards, to reveal the underside of the fish, with the sky visible through the water. This creates the illusion that the fish is flying in the sky.”

THIRD PLACE: Mikayla Jones, Baja California, Mexico 

Two gray whales seemingly pose for the camera. “This was my first large mammal encounter,” says photographer Mikayla Jones. “I jumped in and was rewarded with these whales coming right at me. After catching my breath, I managed to get off a few frames, made some adjustments, and finished with this shot just before they swam down both sides of me. I could hardly breathe!”

Enjoy all of this year’s photographs at