Blue water mangroves are vital to the health and well being of our coral reef ecosystem. They help stabilize shorelines, remove pollutants, improve water quality, and provide nursery habitat for juvenile fish. From beneath the surface the mangrove canopy is visible through the shallow water and adds a surreal quality to the image. This image was taken in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
2016 World Oceans Day Theme Winner: Beth Watson, USA
"Photography is a niche that allows me to express my creativity which fuels the artistic portion of my soul. My objective is to create unique, impactful, thought-provoking imagery ~ artwork."
(click to enlarge)
Beth Watson, Photographer
2016 Photo Contest Co-Coordinators:
The Contest Co-Coordinators would like to thank the following Judges:
Rodolfo Werner Kinkelin, Advisor to the Antarctic Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) and the Pew Charitable Trusts (Argentina)
Shawn Heinrichs, Founder of Blue Sphere Media, Associate Director of the Manta Trust (Colorado, USA)
Kristal Ambrose, Founder of the Bahamas Plastic Movement (Bahamas)
Nainoa Thompson, President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society (Hawaii, USA)
Jayne Jenkins, Ambassador for Olympus Digital Cameras, Vice President for the Australasian Our World Underwater Scholarship Society (Australia)
World Oceans Day Youth Advisory Council
(Caitlin Philipps, Australia, Gabriella Schauber, Canada, Brandon Koots, Curacao, Sang-Jin Kim, Germany, Nehara Pandey, India, Melati Wijsen, Indonesia, Mohammed Wahabi, Morocco, Oghenechovwen C. Oghenekevwe, Nigeria, Eugenia Barroca, Portugal, Latisha Parkinson, Trinidad and Tobago, Baylee Ritter, USA)
Winners and finalists of the thematic categories
First Place: Alex Lindbloom (USA)
"Mangroves play a vital role in the oceans ecosystem, acting as nurseries for juvenile fish and sharks, as well as natural buffer to ocean storms for local communities. Most of mangroves occur in brackish water and swampier areas but these open ocean mangroves are highly unique and magnificently beautiful. These salt water tolerant trees are growing up right out of the coral reef with their grasping roots extending down through the still water providing the most beautiful backdrop for the sponges and corals that thrive below."
This photo was taken on an early morning dive in one of the many mangrove systems in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.
Second Place: Anders Nyberg (Sweden)
"It is an incredible experience to photograph the sunset in the Strait of Tiran, Red Sea, Egypt. This reef is one of the many beautiful and healthy coral reefs on earth, but they are becoming fewer as we humans littering and polluting the oceans, and global warming is killing the coral reefs. This split level view of shallow beautiful coral reef is a striking example of how beautiful our planet Earth is, and how important it is to take care of it. "
Third Place: Gregory Lecoeur (France)
"French Polynesia is an amazing place Nature lovers. In the lagoon of Moorea, I explored the lagoon by paddling when I crossed the way of several black tips sharks. I grabbed my mask and my camera to jump in the water in order to capture the magnificent sharks with this heavenly landscape. Swimming or diving with sharks change your perspective."
This photo was taken in Moorea, French Polynesia
Above Water Seascapes
First Place: Mathieu Foulquié (France)
"Jökulsárlón the "glacial river lagoon" is located in the south east of Iceland. This unique ice lagoon is located next to Vatnajökull glacier, Europe's largest glacier. The lagoon is connected to the sea, and the seawater is aiding to melt the ice from the glacier
This frozen paradise for photographers and one of the most popular and spectacular location in Iceland, is also known as the "ground zero for global change", because the lagoon has been increasing since the global warming happened. As the icebergs are melting, the lagoon is getting larger and one day, it could just remain a large fjord."
Second Place: Gregory Lecoeur (France)
"Along the wild coast of South Africa, I was off shore looking for marine life. Especially marine predators as Cape Gannets birds, Dolphins or shark hunting bait ball of sardines during their migration. But At the end of the day, on the way back, We saw a big splash on the sea. It was a humpback whales's breaching. At this time of the year, the whales migrate from Antartica to the warm water of Indien Ocean for giving birth or mating. It is spectacular and fantastic to see how these giants of 40 tonnes jump out the water and dive back gracefully into the water, making a huge splash.
The species was listed as vulnerable in 1996 and endangered as recently as 1988. Since the end of commercial whaling the stocks of humpback whales in the world have rebounded and are now approaching pre-hunting levels.This is for me a good example that we, humans, we can live peacefully to Nature provided to set aside our personal interests and our selfishness."
This photo was taken in Port St. Johns, South Africa
Third Place: Edwar Herreño (Colombia)
"In one of the bushes at Cocos Island – Costa Rica, a Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster) nest peaceful. We are one of the few privileged who annually visit this paradise that remains untouched by humans. This island has Several nicknames: Jurassic Island, The King Kong Island, Island of the sharks, but I really like: “The Treasure Island”, because to me the real treasure is the beauty and the magic of this place, above and Under water."
I took this photography at Manuelita Rock – Cocos Island – Costa Rica
First Place: Gregory Lecoeur (France)
"I took this image during a scuba diving in Tenerife when I crossed the way of this green turtle. It was early morning and the sunbeam pierced the surface. I adjusted the setting of my camera and I waited for the turtle pass by the sun to trigger my camera. I used a fisheyes lens so I need to be very close of the animal. I have to blend me into the underwater landscape and be patient. Turtles are marine species that I greatly admire. It's always very emotional to observe them because they are becoming increasingly rare because of the impact of human activities. "
This photo was taken in Tenerife, Canaries Island .
Second Place: Vania Kam (People’s Republic of China)
"Cephea cephea, sometimes called the Crown Jellyfish, is a large jellyfish that can reach 50-60 cm in diameter, with multiple wart-like projections on top of the central mound of its bell, which is surrounded by a moat. They are targeted by the jellyfish fishing industry, especially during large blooms, and commonly and historically eaten as a delicacy or for medicinal purposes in China and Japan. When I spotted this beautiful jellyfish, I was actually looking for those tiny fish that swim around them and I found this palm sized crab riding on it! And shortly before I spotted this jellyfish, we saw a giant green turtle somewhere nearby and turtles are jellyfish eater which probably explains why they were there. "
This photo was taken in Cebu, Philippines.
Third Place: Brandi Mueller (USA)
"My favorite aspect of scuba diving is being able to get a glimpse of the behaviors of those who reside in the ocean. During this dive I saw a beautiful purple anemone and stopped to photograph the bright orange false clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris) in it. After the first shot I noticed a tiny commensal shrimp near the clownfish and on the second shot he had jumped on the clownfish to give him a quick cleaning. By the third shot the shrimp was finished with his cleaning duties and had moved to another part of the anemone. It was amazing to watch. "
The photo was taken near Dumaguete, Philippines.
First Place: Marlyss Brightwell (USA)
"On the white sandy shores of Pensacola Beach, Florida, U.S.A, a Great Blue Heron basks in the early morning sun. Largest of the North American herons measuring up to 3 to 5 feet tall with a 6-foot wingspan these birds can be found throughout the continent. Although their numbers are currently stable, the Great Blue Heron is still at risk in some areas due to water contamination from chemical and habitat loss. This Great Blue Heron is a beautiful symbolization on how the species is standing tall."
Second Place: Indigo Bolandrini (Egypt)
"The photo is of the famous 'Red Sea Walkman' which is a very popular species in the Red Sea, and they display amazing awe dropping colours - especially popular with underwater photographers. The Red Sea Walkman have two small spines on which they walk on rather than swim, hence the name 'walkman'. They are very camouflaged fish, and the Latin Name is inimicus filamentosu. These subjects can sometimes take over 10-15 minutes to photograph as they're best position to photograph it when they open their fins to display the bright and beautiful colours. I decided to set the camera settings to a high shutter speed and high apeture, in order to create a black background which would contrast the Bright colours even more. This species whilst harmless at rest, if stepped on is venomous to the human body. "
The photograph was taken at Sachawa Abu Galawa, outside El Gouna in the Red Sea, Egypt.
Third Place: Zara Edmond (Australia)
"After a swim at Sorrento Beach in Perth, Western Australia, I stopped to capture this photo. I’ve always loved the ocean, and its beauty has never failed to amaze me. The ocean is one of the most powerful forces in our world, and as the lightning strikes and the two are combined the power and beauty of the two is surreal. This day, as the lightning struck off the coast as the sun set, made me realise how important it is that we protect our ocean and its beauty – and everything below its depths. "
First Place: Michele Hall (USA)
Off the coast of Vavu’a in the The Kingdom of Tonga, Howard Hall is seen capturing giant format motion picture images of a mother and her calf for an IMAX feature about humpback whales.
Images captured by underwater photographers in the 1970s helped inspire the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the protection of whales worldwide. These efforts combined with the International Whaling Commission’s 1966 ban on commercial whaling of humpbacks have resulted in the population of humpback whales increasing from a low of 1,500 to close to 20,000 in current times.
Second Place: Tommi Kokkola (Finland)
I have mixed feelings about the whale shark diving at Oslob, Philippines. Still I’m glad I did it as I’ve been able to present a few of the images which make people think more about conservation of the seas and these gentle giants. This photo is my favourite as one can imagine a question mark made of the small fish asking about the whale shark tourism at Oslob.
The most biodiverse seas in the world are also among the most densely populated and poorest areas. It cannot be expected from a growing population of locals to just stop exploiting the seas without alternative livelihood. There is plenty of work still needed to make tourism more ecological, a lot of education and best practices need to be defined and spread, but it is not yet too late.
Third Place: Edwar Herreño (Colombia)
Cocos Island – Costa Rica is a good example on how the oceans were just few decades ago. This place is one of the few that has a tremendous amount of biodiversity. My hope is that our leaders make better efforts to protect protected areas like Cocos and create more protected marine areas. We need more “Hope Spots”. This is one of the enormous congregation of Big eye yack (Caranx sexfaciatus) that can be found at Cocos Island.
I took this photography at Dirty Rock – Cocos Island – Costa Rica.