These breathtaking images by women won the Ocean Photography Award 2021
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These breathtaking images by women won the Ocean Photography Award 2021

The awards are a celebration of the beauty of marine biology, and a recognition of its endangerment.

While a new study by the University of British Columbia found that coral reefs have declined by about half since the 1950s, these mesmerising images captured by women for the Ocean Photography Award show just how breathtaking and essential they are.

The awards, which are in their second year, celebrate marine life and “aim to highlight environmental threats faced by the world’s oceans as well as showcasing their beauty”.

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It was a striking image of an endangered turtle among glass fish, taken by Aimee Jan, that won this year’s Ocean Photographer of the year award. As she told Sky News, seeing the “amazing and magic things” that live in our oceans was a “huge reminder that we all must do everything we can to protect it”.

Ocean Photography Awards 2021: an endangered sea turtle among fish
Ocean Photography Awards 2021: an endangered sea turtle among fish

“I was out snorkelling when one of my colleagues told me there was a turtle under a ledge in a school of glass fish, about 10 metres down,” explained Jan. “When I dived down to look, the fish separated around the turtle perfectly. I said to her: ‘I think I just took the best photo I have ever taken’.”

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Other key images included the winner of the Female Fifty Fathoms Award, a new nomination category designed to celebrate inspiring women in ocean photography. LA-based photographer and biology teacher, Renee Capozzola won with a fascinating image of a blacktip reef shark at sunset.

The image is captioned: “A blacktip reef shark glides just under the calm surface and some clouds in Fakarava, French Polynesia.”

Ocean Photography Awards 2021: blacktip reef shark
Ocean Photography Awards 2021: blacktip reef shark

Jan’s second entry into the competition – a manta ray feeding in calm waters – also secured the runner up position for the Female Fifty Fathoms award. 

Ocean Photography Awrds 2021: a feeding manta ray
Ocean Photography Awrds 2021: a feeding manta ray

“We were out on a humpback whale tour when manta rays were spotted line feeding, swimming back and forth on the surface scooping up huge mouthfuls of plankton,” says  Jan. “On this day there was no wind – we call this a glass off because the surface of the water looks like glass. We got in for a swim and it was just beautiful. I took a few photos. This one was my favourite.”

The fascinating images will be displayed in a free public open-air exhibition from 17 September alongside River Thames, by Tower Bridge.

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Images: Getty/Aimee Jan/Renee Capozzola