A mesmerising image showing an aggregation of mobula rays has scooped the top prize at the Ocean Photography Awards 2020. The winning image, taken by Canadian photographer Nadia Aly, was announced in November.
The Ocean Photography Awards is a celebration of the watery world beneath the waves and has six categories: Ocean Conservation Photographer; Ocean Exploration Photographer; Ocean Adventure Photographer; Young Ocean Photographer; Community Choice Award; and Collective Portfolio Awards. There is also an overall winning image, which is the award that Aly achieved.
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“The photograph is perfectly exposed, compellingly dramatic and deeply intriguing. I know from experience that this image was not easy to create,” says judge Cristina Mittermeier. “Nadia Aly’s acknowledgement as the Ocean Photographer of the Year is a testament not only to the sheer power and uniqueness of her imagery, but to her journey as a photographer as well. It’s not lost on me that this winning image was made by an incredible water-woman, making it especially joyous and personally inspiring.”
Here, we pick out some more of our favourites from this year’s winners and highly commended entries.
Check out all the winning images at The Ocean Photography Awards website.
A mob of mobulas
Overall winner: An aggregation of thousands of mobula rays in Mexico © Nadia Aly
Collective Portfolio runner-up: Two tompot blennies fight over mating rights, UK © Henley Spiers
Plastic in paradise
Conservation Photographer 1st prize: A hermit crab crawls atop a pile of plastic in a shell made from human-made waste in the Maldives © Matthew Sharp
Collective Portfolio 3rd prize: Nurse sharks mating in the Bahamas © Shane Gross
Community Choice 1st prize: Two penguins look out across the water, with Melbourne’s lights in the distance in St Kilda, Australia © Tobias Baumgaertner
Community Choice runner-up: A humpback whale calf ‘breakdances’ in the warm waters of Tonga © Jono Allen
A tense wait
Adventure Photographer 1st prize: A freediving instructor waits for their student to return from a dive below Cenote Angelita’s microbial cloud in Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico © Jason Gulley
Young Ocean Photographer 1st prize: The silky tentacles of an anemone sway in surging water, exposing a Maldivian anemone fish in Laamu Atoll, South Maldives © Cruz Erdmann
Conservation Photographer runner-up: Anemone fish seemingly gaze up at the horrors of a ghost fishing net that has covered their entire reef, off Malapascua Island, Philippines © Henley Spiers
Exploration Photographer 1st prize: King penguins congregate in winding columns seeking shelter, as a blizzard sets in in St Andrew’s Bay, South Georgia Island © Ben Cranke
Strike me pink
Collective Portfolio 1st prize: Giant cuttlefish aggregate together to breed in Whyalla, South Australia © Nadia Aly
Cave of wonders
Adventure Photographer runner-up: A cave diver enters Little River Spring in Mexico during a flood © Jason Gulley
Adventure Photographer 2nd prize: Two bronze whaler sharks swim through a cresting wave, chasing a bait ball in Red Bluff, Western Australia © Sean Scott
Conservation Photographer 2nd prize: A plastic bottle lies amongst the nests of the world’s largest colony of imperial cormorants, 100km south of Puerto Madryn, Argentina © Andrea Benvenutti
Take a stand
Exploration Photographer 2nd prize: A freediver explores a cave in Tonga © Karim Iliya