The finalists for this year's Ocean Photography Awards have just been announced, and this year’s high standard of submissions provide a rich and varied look at the ocean, from multicoloured squid and translucent deep-sea creatures to very curious sea lions and split-shots of crocodiles at sunset.


However, as we too well know, human interaction with the ocean isn’t always positive. The dangers of ghost fishing lines and discarded face masks to aquatic species are something all-too-common, while vast trawler nets and melting ice remind us that the health of the world's oceans are under constant threat.

The Ocean Photography Awards has a simple mission: to shine a light on the beauty of the ocean and the threats it faces. The winners of this year’s Awards will be announced via a series of films between 10 and 16 September 10, and released on the Ocean Photography Awards Instagram page.


Here are our favourites from the 2021 competition.

Long shadows

Photo by Martin Broen
Speleothems (cave features formed by the deposition of minerals) cast long shadows at Cenote Dos Pisos, Quintana Roo, Mexico. Photo by Martin Broen

Sticking their neck out

Photo by Galice Hoarau
A green turtle on a reef, photographed at Selayar, Indonesia. Photo by Galice Hoarau

Crowd surfing

Sea lions swarm a diver at Vancouver Island, Canada. Photo by Steve Woods

Close to the edge

Photo by Stefan Christmann
An emperor penguin chick stands on the edge of the ice-shelf at Atka Bay, Antarctica, staring at the open water below. Photo by Stefan Christmann

Night vision

Southern Calamari (Sepioteuthis australis) Squid at night in Bushrangers Bay, NSW Australia.
Southern Calamari (Sepioteuthis australis) squid at night in Bushrangers Bay, NSW Australia. Photo by Matty Smith

Casting a wide net

Photo by Thien Nguyen Ngoc
Anchovy fishing boats photographed from above along the coastline of Phu Yen province, Vietnam. Photo by Thien Nguyen Ngoc

Drifting by

Photo by Maxwel Hohn
A sea nettle jellyfish drifts in the shallows of Monterey Bay, California, USA. Photo by Maxwel Hohn

Fast food

Photo by Fabrice Guerin
A sea lion hunts mackerel off the coast of Baja, Mexico. Photo by Fabrice Guerin

Out in the cold

Photo by Nadia Aly
Emperor penguins at Snow hill, Antarctica, stand tall against bracing winds. Photo by Nadia Aly

Make it snappy

Photo by Tanya Houppermans
An American crocodile glides through the water at sunset at Gardens of the Queen, Cuba; a protected marine reserve since 1996. Photo by Tanya Houppermans

Bobbing along

During a shallow night dive in Wollongong Harbour, NSW I came across this adult male Southern Bobtail Squid hunting across the sand. As I approached it seemed to take interest in its reflection in my camera lens port and began to dance with this curious and colourful display. It’s a behaviour I’ve only witness a couple of times in several years of diving here, but this time I managed to capture it before the animal vanished into the night.
An adult male Southern Bobtail Squid night hunting across the sand at Wollongong Harbour, New South Wales, Australia. Photo by Matty Smith

Fever ray

Photo by Alex Kydd
A fever of cownose rays, photography at Coral Bay, Western Australia, displaying what is believed to be mating or courtship behaviour. Photo by Alex Kydd

Thanks for all the fish

Photo by Gergo Rugli
A common dolphin photographed in the Port Stephens Marine Park off Broughton Island, Port Stephens, Australia. Photo by Gergo Rugli

Talk to the hand

Playful grey seals pictured at Farne Islands, United Kingdom, a species that has been protected in the UK for decades under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970. Photo by Grant Thomas

Behind the mask

Photo by Nicholas Samaras
A seahorse clings to a face mask as it swims in the water at Stratoni, Greece. Photo by Nicholas Samaras


James CutmorePicture Editor, BBC Science Focus

James Cutmore is the picture editor of BBC Science Focus Magazine, researching striking images for the magazine and on the website. He is also has a passion for taking his own photographs