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UN World Oceans Day Photo Competition 2024 Winners

UN World Oceans Day Photo Competition 2024 Winners

United Nations World Ocean Day 2024 - Awaken New Depths -Winner 1st Place Renee Capozzola
United Nations World Ocean Day 2024 - Awaken New Depths -Winner 1st Place Renee Capozzola
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The UN World Oceans Day Photo Competition celebrates the best in underwater photography across various categories. Winning Photos Per Category & Corresponding Captions Can be Viewed Here.

Here are the top 3 winners from each category:

Category 1: Awaken New Depths

Underwater Photographer

1. First Place:

  • Name: Renee Grinnell Capozzola
  • Location: USA
  • Instagram: @rcapozzola
  • Caption: “Bringing Up The Net: This large discarded fishing net was found lying on the reef at about 30 meters in Kona, Hawaii. Volunteers from Ocean Defenders Alliance, also known as ODA, brought up this net by working closely together, using lift bags, and the net was then raised onto a boat provided by Kona Honu Divers. Earlier that day ODA had raised and extracted large volumes of fishing line (ultimately filling large buckets for removal) that had been snarled upon the reef. Unfortunately, our ocean suffers from large amounts of debris, which can destroy reefs, entangle marine life, and release harmful chemicals. Many thanks to organizations such as ODA for helping to clean our ocean and preserve marine ecosystems for future generations.”

2. Second Place:

  • Name: Patrick Webster
  • Location: USA
  • Instagram: @underwaterpat
  • Caption: “Kelp restoration technician Andrew Kim removes purple sea urchins Strongylocentrotus purpuratus from an experimental site that will investigate whether divers can adequately defend and restore kelp forests devastated by warming oceans. Since 1980, kelp forests around Monterey Bay have declined in their canopy coverage by 90-some percent. Most recently, beginning in 2013, a ‘perfect ecological storm’ hit the kelp everywhere it hurts, stressing the forests and emboldening its grazers in the absence of their predators. The disappearance of kelp up and down the coast has raised the alarm, rallying countless organizations and dedicated divers to try their chilly hands at becoming gardeners of the kelp forests. By playing sea otter, sunflower star, and seaweed surrogate in their absence, these inspiring coastal caretakers are hoping to bolster the coastline and give it a fighting chance for a more resilient future ecosystem and community in the face of climate change.”

3. Third Place:

  • Name: Sina Ritter
  • Location: Germany
  • Instagram: @palms2peaks
  • Caption: ‘Guiding Fins’ captures a moving scene in Costa Rica where local conservationists tenderly release some hawksbill turtle hatchlings into the ocean. This image brings us close to the gentle hands of a conservationist, carefully escorting these tiny, vulnerable creatures toward the vastness of the sea – their ultimate haven. As these hatchlings navigate a world filled with predators and natural challenges, the image emphasizes the crucial role humans have in protecting our planet’s wildlife. It’s a vivid reminder of the delicate thread of life and how targeted conservation efforts can significantly boost the survival rates of these young turtles.”

Category 2: Underwater Seascapes

Seascape Photography

1. First Place:

  • Name: Taryn Schulz
  • Location: Canada
  • Instagram: @tazdiving
  • Caption: “‘Cormorant love’ This image was taken in Baja California at Isla Islotes, a location known for its sea lion colony. The day we dived here there happened to be a large amount of sardines taking refuge by the island, which became an exciting spectacle in the water with pelicans and cormorants like in this photo flying around and torpedoing themselves in the water. Moments before this shot the sardines were swimming very quickly, so I turned around as I knew something was coming and I was so happy to capture the heart shape of the sardines as they fled from the cormorants.”

2. Second Place:

  • Name: Daniel Sly
  • Location: Australia
  • Instagram: @daniel.sly
  • Caption: “During the winter months, hundreds of thousands of giant cuttlefish (Sepia Apama) aggregate in the shallow waters of the upper Spencer Gulf in South Australia. The cuttlefish arrive here with just one thing on their minds: mating! The gathering of these cuttlefish is skewed towards the males of the species at a ratio of around eight to one, so competition for the limited numbers of females can be fierce. In the foreground of this image, a large male has completely engulfed a smaller female with its arms, while in the background, several other sets of males can be seen challenging one another for the opportunity to mate with the nearby female.”

3. Third Place:

  • Name: Vanessa Mignon
  • Location: Australia
  • Instagram: @vanessamignon1977
  • Caption:‘Mobula Dance’ I travelled to Baja California hoping to witness the Mobula munkiana aggregation. One day we found a vortex of them in deep, blue waters. They were circling and swimming in union. It felt like a beautiful, hypnotic dance. Seeing such big aggregations can lead to think that their populations are doing well. Unfortunately, Mobula munkiana are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list.”

Category 3: Small Island Developing States

SIDS Photography

1. First Place:

  • Name: Andrea Marandino
  • Location: Brazil
  • Instagram: @amarandino
  • Caption: “Image was taken in Abatao, North Tarawa, Kiribati. The children of Kiribati have a close relationship to the ocean and play in the water from a young age. Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati, is a narrow strip of land that lies between the Pacific and an enormous lagoon that depends on a freshwater lens. The kids are always smiling and happily interact with the few visitors, but their future is uncertain. Kiribati’s coral atolls are very low-lying, with a maximum elevation of 3 to 4 meters above sea level, making it one of the countries most threatened by climate change.”

2. Second Place:

  • Name: Andrea Marandino
  • Location: Brazil
  • Instagram: @amarandino
  • Caption: “Image was taken in the village of Korotongo, on the southern coast of Viti Levu, Fiji. The lady in the photo, Mele, was catching sea urchins with two cousins – something they do regularly together for their own consumption. She would open the sea urchins to extract the edible part, mixing them in a bucket with lemon and chili. They invited me to join (classic Fijian hospitality) and we ate them fresh on the beach, with bread fruit on the side. Delicious, and one of my favorite memories of Fiji.”

3. Third Place:

  • Name: Stuart Chape
  • Location: Australia
  • Caption: “Coastal village, Solomon Islands. The large village of Haghalu is located on the south coast of Ngela Sule island in Central Province of the Solomon Islands. The elevation of the village ranges from 1-5 meters above sea-level and is surrounded by coral reefs and deeper sea that support village livelihoods and food security by providing marine resources. Like all Pacific islands coastal villages, Haghalu is vulnerable to climate change, particularly rising seas and extreme weather events.”

Category 4: Big and Small Underwater Faces

Underwater Faces Photography

1. First Place:

  • Name: Mathieu Macias
  • Location: France
  • Instagram: @imaginairnsea
  • Caption: “This photograph is a portrait of a leafy sea dragon taken in Rapid Bay, South Australia, where it is endemic. I was absolutely charmed by this creature as soon as I saw it for the first time in the first photo and it became a dream for me to meet one. Although the first try was a failure, I decided to come back a few months later and my dream came true. I was so happy to meet this animal that is so cute and almost unreal, with its amazing ability to camouflage itself. Its shyness was a big challenge in making this portrait, but I am delighted with the result.”

2. Second Place:

  • Name: George Kuowei Kao
  • Instagram: @george_kao_uwphotographer
  • Caption: “A dive revealed a hard coral hosting blennies, whose charm rivaled groundhogs, through my new lens. As I captured their likeness, creativity spurred me to push the scene’s boundaries. Employing a snoot, I orchestrated a dramatic, overexposed standoff between two blennies. Jason, my guide, with a heart-shaped gesture, turned a shared look into a shared vision

3. Third Place:

  • Name: Irene Middleton
  • Location: New Zealand
  • Instagram: @seacologynz.irene
  • Caption: “This is a Juvenile Football Octopus (Ocythoe tuberculata), a pelagic octopus species that usually lives in mid-water around 200m depth where they are the favorite prey of lancetfishes and Risso’s dolphins. The juveniles are occasionally encountered near the surface, where they often use large salps as protection. I saw a handful in salps on this day at the Poor Knights Islands off New Zealand’s northeastern coast, but this was the only free-swimming juvenile I encountered.”

Category 5: Above Water Seascapes

Above Water Seascape Photography

1. First Place:

  • Name: Michael Sswat
  • Location: Germany
  • Instagram: @m_sswat
  • Caption: “Sitting at the rocky shore in Norway watching northern lights and their reflection in the sea surface with friends – what more do you want?! In this case, we even had more beautiful nature to experience, as earlier in the day, we were diving through canyons into incredible kelp forests meeting lobsters and nudibranchs, in the Namsfjord, off the village of Utvørda, north of Trondheim (Norway).”

2. Second Place:

  • Name: Emmett Sparling
  • Location: Canada
  • Instagram: @emmett_sparling
  • Caption: “On our first night in the Tuamotus (French Polynesia), we stopped in Tahanea – an uninhabited atoll deep in this stunning archipelago. We had a perfectly windless evening where the ocean turned to glass. The next morning, the water was still glassy and a group of blacktip reef sharks patrolled the waters around our boat. Rainbows and sharks are common subjects in the Tuamotus, two things I’ll never get used to.”

3. Third Place:

  • Name: Romeo Bodolai
  • Location: Hungary
  • Instagram: @romeo.bodolai
  • Caption: “A fisherman tries to catch the daily food for his family using a traditional technique in Myanmar. The picture was taken on Lake Inle in 2019. I was lucky with the nice warm lights which give a nice extra touch, a glory to this beautiful moment.”

Congratulations to all the winners for their outstanding contributions to underwater photography and ocean conservation!

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