There’s so much going on underwater. There are floating jellyfish, mating frogs and schools of great white sharks.
These winning photographs of 2022 Underwater Photographer of the Year the competition was capturing much of the activity above and below the water. The images were chosen from 4,200 underwater photos captured by photographers from 71 countries.
Based in the UK, the annual competition rewards photos taken below the surface of the ocean, lakes, rivers and pools. The first Underwater Photographer of the Year was named in 1965. The competition now has 13 categories, plus four specific to photos taken in British waters.
The photo above, ‘Great White Split’, was a finalist in the portrait category and winner of the 2022 British Underwater Photographer of the Year award.
Matty Smith describes his photo, taken in Australia’s North Neptune Islands:
“I had wanted to do a charismatic over/under portrait of a great white shark for a few years. Some techniques I had previously tried had failed terribly, so this time I designed and built my own carbon pole and my own remote trigger. This allowed me to safely lower my camera and housing into the water with my own 12″ split shot dome port. Amazingly, the sharks were instantly attracted to the camera with no additional bait, in fact, it was a battle to keep them from biting the dome port! We had wonderfully calm seas and lovely evening side lighting for this naturally lit image.”
Here are some of the other contest winners.
2022 Wide Angle Winner and Underwater Photographer of the Year
The overall winner of the competition also presented sharks.
Spaniard Rafael Fernandez Caballero shot “Giants of the Night” in the Maldives.
“In the ocean, magic can always happen. But when magic happens all together, you can only think you’re dreaming. That was the case last night in the Maldives.
At the start of the night a whale shark came into the light of our boat BlueForce One, we jumped in the water and then another whale shark came. We were so happy when, a few hours later, out of the blue, madness happened and whale sharks started arriving in large numbers. I was with Gador Muntaner, a shark researcher, who couldn’t believe what we were seeing. At the same time, we counted 11 whale sharks surrounding us. It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment that no one there had thought might even be possible.
Magic happens every day in the ocean, but if we don’t protect the oceans and the sharks, those times will soon be a thing of the past.”
Contest judge Alex Mustard said of the winning photo: “It is said that Jacques Cousteau has only seen three whale sharks in his entire life, so a photo of five together is something special. But this amazing image is about a lot more figures, although it required precision timing to find a moment when they would all fit into the frame and with all their faces visible.In the dead of night, the greatest migration of life occurs when billions of plankton rise from the depths. And here aggregated in the golden lights of a boat offering a feast worthy of the giants. The darkness was the opportunity, but also the photographic challenge for Rafael to see and photograph with success such a grandiose scene in the sea of ink. What a spectacle, a setting with more life than water.
Behavior Winner and My Backyard Winner
“All You Need is Love” was photographed by Pekka Tuuri in Vantaa, Finland.
Tuuri said of the image:
“All you need is love! This love pond is in my garden, a 20-minute drive from my house. And it has rewarded me profusely over the past ten years. It’s full of love at the end of April Common frogs come first, then toads and finally newts I spent four days and four nights there in 2021. I was wearing a dry suit with argon, lots of underwear and a heated vest to survive in the five degree water. I floated and stayed put among the frogs and pretty soon they accepted me and my camera as part of the landscape. The frogs climb on my camera, growl in my ears and squeeze between my face and the back plate of the camera. Active spawning time lasts about two days and nights. What an experience with lots of photo ops!”
Javier Murcia photographed “Mimicry” in Cartagena, Spain.
“This image is the result of many hours of work with the species that live in the seagrass beds. Both species, both the pipefish (Alabaster Syngnathus) and green shrimp (Hippolyte sp.) live on the leaves of seagrass beds. This is not the first time I see this curious behavior; I was able to observe it 4 or 5 times but I had never been able to take a good picture of it (after many hours and days of looking for the moment). Sometimes the shrimp would move and other times the pipefish would quickly hide in my presence. The pipefish looks like a leaf of sea grass and for this reason some shrimp confuse themselves with its body thinking that they are moving leaves. Both are mimetic species.”
Marine Conservation Winner
Thien Nguyen Ngoc won the marine conservation category and honors as the 2022 “Save Our Seas Foundation” Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year with “Big Appetite” taken in Vietnam.
“An aerial perspective of anchovy fishing activities off Hon Yen, Phu Yen Province, Vietnam. Many local fishing families along the coast will follow the coastal currents to catch anchovy during the high season.Salted anchovy is the most important raw material for creating traditional Vietnamese fish sauce, but anchovies are a small fish with a big impact.When overfished, whales, tuna, seabirds . .. and other marine predators that depend on it as a staple food are facing starvation and critical population decline.And so far, Vietnam is also facing this anchovy overfishing situationAccording to the results of the survey by the Institute of Seafood Research, the stocks and catches of anchovies in Vietnam’s waters have decreased by 20-30% over the past 10 years.
Most Promising British Underwater Photographer
Paul Pettit shot “Diamonds and Rust” around Swanage Pier, England.
“This photo was taken on a bright afternoon when I knew the sun would be on the west side of the pier. The gooseberries had been around for a while and that day the water was like glass. I was floating where I wanted and waited for them to slowly pass.The background colors depict rust and weed growth on a metal crossbeam.
UK Waters Macro Winner
Dan Bolt photographed “Best Buddies” in Loch Carron, Scotland.
“2021 was the 10th anniversary of my first trip to beautiful Loch Carron, and throughout that time it has never failed to produce stunning underwater images with its diversity of marine inhabitants. My buddies know I am not very good at finding Yarrels Blenny, and this was no exception for this dive either, we were diving over an area of reef I had not explored before, and after a cry excited and the wave of a torch in my direction, I dropped down to see that my buddy had found not one, but two beautiful little blennies buried in a crack in the rock.
Having my long macro lens was a plus as I could get far enough from the reef to light up their house so we could all see their slightly puzzled little faces. Best friends, that’s for sure!”
UK Waters Wide Angle Winner
Henley Spiers captured “Gannet Storm” in Scotland.
“A northern gannet swims in an artistic hail of bubbles created by diving seabirds. 40,000 northern gannets visit the nearby cliffs each year to lay and care for a single egg, fishing for food nearby. Hitting the freezing water faster than an Olympic diver, these incredible birds developed air sacs in their heads and chests to survive those repeated heavy impacts.Underwater the sound was thunderous as white torpedoes and contours pierced the surface. I wanted to create a new image of these beautiful seabirds and decided to try and capture their movement through slow exposure. The speed of gannets has led to countless failures but in In this setting, we maintain strong eye contact with the gannet, even if the scene is artistically softened. Many thanks to Richard Shucksmith, without whom this encounter with the gannets would not have been possible.”