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The winners of the 2024 United Nations World Oceans Day Photo Competition have been announced. This annual contest brings together photographers and artists from around the world to showcase the beauty and importance of the ocean. As we read on the organizers' website: “This open and free photo competition seeks to inspire the creation of imagery capturing the beauty, the challenges and the importance of the ocean and humankind’s relation to it, hoping to contribute to actions to preserve this vital resource.”

Finalists from nine different countries were selected in five categories: Awaken New Depths, Small Island Developing States, Big and Small Underwater Faces, Underwater Seascapes, and Above Water Seascapes. Winners were chosen from thousands of global entries submitted by both amateur and professional photographers.

Scroll down to see the awarded images and to learn more about one of the winning photos taken by Australian photographer Vanessa Mignon.

More info: worldoceanday.org | Instagram | divephotoguide.com

#1

Underwater Seascapes, 3rd Place: Vanessa Mignon (Australia)

Underwater Seascapes, 3rd Place: Vanessa Mignon (Australia)

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Bored Panda got in touch with Vanessa Mignon, the 2024 finalist awarded with a 3rd place in the Underwater Seascapes category. The winning photograph of the mobula rays was taken in Mexico, and as we read on her Instagram: “At the right time of the year it’s not uncommon to see big aggregations. Seeing such big groups might lead one to think that their populations are doing well. Sadly this is not the case. They are listed as vulnerable. They face many challenges such as fishing/bycatch, collision, habitat destruction and degradation, pollution…”

We asked Mignon to tell us more about the moment she captured in her photograph. We learned that: “I have always enjoyed observing behaviour, and that's why I went to Baja California; I was hoping to witness the majestic aggregation of mobula rays. We were lucky to see several groups but always in murky waters. One day we decided to head out at sea and look for them in deeper, bluer waters. We were lucky to encounter that group. I remember feeling mesmerized as I watched them move. It looked like a synchronised, hypnotic dance.”

#2

Above Water Seascapes, 2nd Place: Emmett Sparling (Canada)

Above Water Seascapes, 2nd Place: Emmett Sparling (Canada)

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susangrady avatar
Irish Lassie
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This entire scene is so surreal and magnificent! It’s straight out of an imaginarium

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#3

Awaken New Depths, 3rd Place: Sina Ritter (Germany)

Awaken New Depths, 3rd Place: Sina Ritter (Germany)

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The photographer shared with us more about her approach to ethical considerations of underwater photography: “I feel that each of us is likely to have some sort of negative impact on the environment, regardless of how careful and respectful you are. I mean, travelling there, for example, is associated with carbon emissions. So I try to offset that negative impact with as much positive as possible.”

#4

Big And Small Underwater Faces, Winner: Mathieu Macias (France)

Big And Small Underwater Faces, Winner: Mathieu Macias (France)

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#5

Big And Small Underwater Faces, 2nd Place: George Kuowei Kao

Big And Small Underwater Faces, 2nd Place: George Kuowei Kao

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Dainty72
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2 weeks ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

These remind me of the old grumps! Show in the uk. It's absolutely amazing this shot!!! So impressed!!!

Vanessa told us she believes that photography can play a big role in conservation, by showing people the beauty of the underwater world and by inspiring them to protect it: “I aim to use my photography for that purpose. For example, when people see a big group of mobulas like that, they might think their populations are doing well. But they are actually listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list, and they face many threats. So it's important to explain that and to raise awareness about the fact that those gorgeous creatures could disappear. And I have often donated pictures to wildlife organisations to support their work.

Also, I always make sure I work with local operators who are experienced and licenced, and who are mindful around animals. For example, if you decide to go on a whale swim trip, make sure the operator has the relevant permit in place. This will ensure that the crew has received the relevant training on how to approach the animals, read the behaviour, etc. It will also ensure your safety as typically boats also need to be assessed (length, safety equipment, etc.) as part of the permit obtention.”

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#6

Underwater Seascapes, 2nd Place: Daniel Sly (Australia)

Underwater Seascapes, 2nd Place: Daniel Sly (Australia)

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#7

Big And Small Underwater Faces, 3rd Place: Irene Middleton (New Zealand)

Big And Small Underwater Faces, 3rd Place: Irene Middleton (New Zealand)

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When asked to share a memorable story from her underwater photography experiences, Mignon mentioned the interactions she has had with whales: “I lead trips to swim with whales and in the last 15 years I have been very fortunate to have many incredible encounters with them. I think my favourite is when a whale decides to come and interact with you, sometimes even chase you around in a playful way. This has happened to me on several occasions and from different species of whales. It's exhilarating. I feel so alive when that happens, time stops and I am truly in the moment. But above all I feel overwhelmed by a humbling feeling of acceptance and connection, where a gentle giant not only acknowledges me and accepts my presence but also makes the decision to stay and interact with me.”

#8

Awaken New Depths, Winner: Renee Capozzola (USA)

Awaken New Depths, Winner: Renee Capozzola (USA)

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#9

Above Water Seascapes, Winner: Michael Sswat (Germany)

Above Water Seascapes, Winner: Michael Sswat (Germany)

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Lastly, we were curious about Vanessa’s upcoming plans and projects in marine conservation. The photographer shared with us: “I will continue to try and support conservation the best I can. I often do beach clean-ups, donate my pictures to conservation organisations, and whenever possible I try to share my experience, educate people and inspire them. I was recently appointed as Marelux Conservation Liaison Officer and I am looking forward to connecting my contacts in wildlife organisations with the Marelux network of talented photographers. I feel this teamwork can lead to great ideas and help support further the protection of our oceans.”

#10

Underwater Seascapes, Winner: Taryn Schulz (Canada)

Underwater Seascapes, Winner: Taryn Schulz (Canada)

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#11

Above Water Seascapes, 3rd Place: Romeo Bodolai (Hungary)

Above Water Seascapes, 3rd Place: Romeo Bodolai (Hungary)

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#12

Small Island Developing States, Winner: Andrea Marandino (Brazil)

Small Island Developing States, Winner: Andrea Marandino (Brazil)

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#13

Awaken New Depths,2nd Place: Patrick Webster (USA)

Awaken New Depths,2nd Place: Patrick Webster (USA)

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#14

Small Island Developing States, 2nd Place: Andrea Marandino (Brazil)

Small Island Developing States, 2nd Place: Andrea Marandino (Brazil)

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#15

Small Island Developing States, 3rd Place: Stuart Chape (Australia)

Small Island Developing States, 3rd Place: Stuart Chape (Australia)

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