Kat Zhou's image of an endangered pink river dolphin popping its head above the water has won this year's Underwater Photographer of the Year 2023.


Head judge Dr Alex Mustard MBE said of the image; “In dark, tannic waters, Kat has created a striking composition capturing this rarely photographed and endangered species in a precision composition. This is by far the best image we've ever seen of this species, whose numbers are declining at an alarming rate and whose IUCN’s Red List status was worryingly uprated to Endangered in 2019.”

Ollie Clarke was named British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2023 for his image 'The Swarm', showing a whale shark, the biggest fish in the world, hidden within a tightly-packed bait ball of smaller fish.

Spanish photographer Alvaro Herrero was named ‘Save Our Seas Foundation’ Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2023, with his photo ‘Hopeless’. Herrero’s photograph shows a humpback whale dying of starvation, unable to swim properly after its tail broke from being entangled in discarded ropes. “Taking this photograph was the saddest moment I've experienced in the ocean,” said Herrero.

Underwater Photographer of the Year is an annual competition that celebrates photography beneath the surface of the ocean, and has been running since 1965. Today’s competition attracts entries from all around the world, with 13 categories that test photographers with themes such as macro, wide angle, behaviour and wreck photography, as well as four categories for photos taken specifically in British waters.

We bring you our favourites from this year's competition.

Underwater Photographer of the Year - Boto encantado

pink dolphin pokes nose out of water
An amazon pink river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) pokes its nose above the waters of the Amazon river, Brazil. In local legend, river dolphins (colloquially known as 'botos') can transform into handsome men known as 'boto encantado'. Photo by Kat Zhou/UPY 2023

British Underwater Photographer of the Year - The Swarm

whale sharks feeding on bait ball
A huge whale shark (Rhincodon typus) feeds off an incredibly dense bait ball of small fish. Photographed at Ningaloo Reef, Australia. Photo by Ollie Clarke/UPY 2023

British waters living together category - Pipe reef

large Langoustine on artificial reef
A large Langoustine (Nephrops norvegicus) makes its way past an artificial reef made of old pipes and concrete, Loch Fyne, Scotland, United Kingdom. Photo by Dan Bolt/UPY 2023

Portrait category winner - The trunk

Close up of elephant trunk
A super close-up image of an elephant trunk, photographed in Phuket, Thailand. Photo by Suliman Alatiqi/UPY 2023

Behaviour category winner - Make love not war

A couple of coconut octopuses (Amphioctopus marginatus) mating at a dive site near Tulamben village, Bali, Indonesia. Photo by Yury Ivanov/UPY 2023

Macro category winner - Unsung

Male plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus) developing on egg sacs. Photographed at Vancouver Island, Canada. Photo by Shane Gross/UPY 2023

Wrecks category winner - Engine with a saddle

broken old plane wreck underwater
The wreck of a single-engine Second World War aeroplane, identified as F8F-1 Bearcat. This is a rare aircraft that astronaut Neil Armstrong famously described as "an engine with a saddle". Photographed at Point Loma, California, USA. Photo by Brett Eldridge/UPY 2023

Wide angle category winner - Fade

line of rays swimming over sand
A group of southern stingrays (Hypanus americanus) swim along the shallow sands of Stingray City, Cayman Islands, lit by the early morning sunrise. Photo by J Gregory Sherman/UPY 2023

Macro category 3rd - Relentless gaze

shark eye close up
A close-up image of the eye of a nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum), photographed during a night dive off the coast of Bimini, Bahamas. Photo by Kat Zhou/UPY 2023

Behaviour category runner-up - Double whale time

two huge whales eating fish in blue waters
Two bryde whales (Balaenoptera brydei) feed on a ball of sardines, while a blue marlin (Makaira nigricans) decides to leave the scene. Photographed at Baja California Sur, Mexico. Photo by Wojciech Dopierala/UPY 2023

British waters wide angle category winner - An island's wild seas

Underwater landscape looking like a forest
Sunlight beats down through a marine jungle of Himanthalia algae, on the chalk reefs of the Needles Marine Conservation Zone, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom. Photo by Theo Vickers/UPY 2023

Wide angle category 3rd - Sky full of rays

Many rays swimming in blue sea
Modula rays photographed in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. Photo by Rafael Fernandez Caballero/UPY 2023

More images from BBC Science Focus:


Black and white category winner - El Blanco/The White One

a right whale calf swimming
A white southern right whale calf (Eubalaena australis) swims in the waters around the Peninsula Valdés, Argentina. White calves are very rare, and are referred to as 'El Blanco', or 'the white one'. Photo by Don Silcock/UPY 2023

British waters macro category winner - Egg eaters

Nudibranchs (Favorinus branchialis) feeding on egg coils of other nudibranch species. Photographed in Shetland, Scotland, United Kingdom. Photo by Kirsty Andrews/UPY 2023

Portrait category runner up - Curiosity Among Icebergs

Seal swims past iceberg
A leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx) photographed swimming in the waters of the Antarctic peninsula. Photo by Rafael Fernandez Caballero/UPY 2023

Compact category winner - Klunzinger's wrasse in motion

A colourful and curious Klunzinger's Wrasse (Thalassoma rueppellii) swims close to the photographer's lens, at Marsa Alam, Egypt. Photo by Enrico Somogyi/UPY 2023

Save Our Seas Foundation category winner - Hopeless

Humpback whale tail damage
A humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) dies a slow, painful death after having its tail entangled in ropes and buoys, rendering its tail completely useless. Photographed at Baja California, Mexico. Photo by Alvaro Herrero/UPY 2023

British waters compact category winner - Crack rock blenny

Fish peers out between colourful rocks
A blenny fish (Blennioidei) peers out between rocks where he is protecting young eggs in the crevice behind him. Photographed at Babbacombe, Torbay, United Kingdom. Photo by Tony Reed/UPY 2023


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