Winners of the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024

The winners of the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 competition were announced in an award ceremony in Mayfair, London. Participants submitted their pics in 13 categories, including Macro, Wide Angle, Behavior and Wreck photography, as well as 4 categories for photos taken specifically in British waters. The contest celebrates photography beneath the surface of the ocean, lakes, rivers and even swimming pools, attracting entries from all around the world.

PS: Oceans make up about 71 percent of Earth’s surface, but a mere 5 percent of the global ocean has been explored, and less than 10 percent mapped using modern sonar technology… More here.

Jon Anderson, runner up – Category 5. Portrait. “Even more surprising than encountering a bird underwater is having the bird try to attack your camera while hunting for small fish in the kelp forest! Last summer at a popular Monterey dive site, the cormorants seemed to be more active and curious than usual. Knowing this, I planned a dive on a sunny afternoon hoping to catch a cormorant beneath the kelp forest pierced by the afternoon sun. I had numerous cormorants approach me, peck at my head and tank, follow me around, and try to eat my camera. This one paused for a moment, perhaps after the seeing its self-reflection in my dome port, allowing me to capture a head on portrait. Countless species including these cormorants depend on healthy kelp forests to thrive. Unfortunately, local kelp forests have declined by over 80% in size in the last decade due to warmer waters and unchecked predation by urchins.” (Jon Anderson/UPY 2024)
JingGong Zhang, runner up – Category 4. Behavior. “This is a photo of two female Zoarchias major eelpouts in a fight. During the breeding season, in order to fight for a suitable spawning nest, not only the males will fight each other, but also the females, and inexplicably, even the males and females will sometimes fight each other. Usually, they can only be found in very few places of southern Japan. I thought long and hard before shooting, how to perfectly present their two biggest characteristics in the shot: their unique spotted pattern inside the mouth and that the mouth that can open up to 180 degrees! My choice was to shoot the fight in its most intense moment, using a snooted strobe to create the black background. I’m very honored to share this charming moment.” (JingGong Zhang/UPY 2024)
Martin Broen, winner – Category 3. Wrecks. “Together with an amazing group of photographers I had the honor to be invited to compete in the 1st Aqaba underwater photo competition in Jordan, where a highlight is the underwater military museum. An unusual sight of war machines sunk in 15 to 28 meters of water and stationed along the reefs in tactical battle formation. I wanted to capture the symmetry of the Chieftain Tanks and strong presence of their 120mm guns, but the position where I could shoot that image with my fish-eye lens was occupied by a military ambulance. Therefore, I experimented with a 6 shot panorama from a point between the guns, which allowed me to recreate the virtual position further back, and achieve and elegant symmetry of the tanks, supported by the central focal point of my dive buddy in the back.” (Martin Broen/UPY 2024)
Rafael Fernandez Caballero, winner – Category 5. Portrait. “Encounters with gray whales in Pacific saltwater lagoons are extremely special. Known for their friendly and curious nature, gray whales often approach boats, allowing observers to witness distinctive behaviours like spy-hopping. This photo was taken from the boat, where the whale displayed a friendly gaze toward my camera, resembling a human look of curiosity and innocence. During their migration from the Bering Sea to Baja California, these lagoons serve as crucial havens and winter maternity wards. With only around 1300 gray whales left, responsible practices of ecotourism are key to protect these giants. These special moments highlight the beauty and intelligence of the whales, creating enduring memories for both observers and, surely, the curious whales themselves.” (Rafael Fernandez Caballero/UPY 2024)
Jenny Stock, British Waters Macro winner and British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024. “Loch Leven is a Scottish dive site near Oban that can be can easily be accessed via a lay-by on the A82. Once there a walk down a steep leafy track will lead you into the ârefreshingâ water. As I descended into the dark green depths of the sea loch, on a dusk dive, I approached an area where my torch picked out the vivid colors of a living carpet of thousands of brittlestars. Captivated by the variety of hues and patterns each star took, I felt this was an incredible encounter with a species Iâd never seen before. I was happily snapping away, when I spotted this purple sea urchin and I got really excited. A dominant star next to this graphic invertebrate created a beautifully balanced pair, perfectly surrounded by an entanglement of the background brittlestars.” (Jenny Stock/UPY 2024)

More pics here.