All of you nature-loving Pandas are in for a treat. The Oceanographic Magazine has just announced the finalists of the Ocean Photography Awards and they look utterly magnificent. We can’t wait to show them to you, so scroll down to submerge yourself in the photographic glory of under- and above-water ecosystems. Remember to upvote your fave photos!

Now that we’ve seen the finalists, we can’t wait to hear who the winners of the competition are. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait long: the Ocean Photography Awards winners will be announced on November 19 during a virtual ceremony worthy of Poseidon himself. You can watch the award ceremony live on the Ocean Photography Awards YouTube channel starting at 7 p.m. GMT, Thursday. Which photos do you think are the best of the best, dear Readers? (We’ve got our favorites but they’re a secret!) Let us know in the comment section!

The Ocean Photography Awards team told Bored Panda that the competition is a celebration of the photographers "who capture our ocean spaces in earnest, sharing them with those who might otherwise never have an opportunity to see such places. By sharing their relationship with nature, ocean photographers provide space for their audiences to connect with the marine environment, which will hopefully mean more people will feel a drive to protect it." Read on for our full interview with the wonderful OPA team.

(h/t My Modern Met)

More info: OceanographicMagazine.com | Facebook | Instagram

#1

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Two sharks surf a wave at Red Bluff, Quobba Station, in remote Western Australia. “The huge bait ball the sharks were feeding on had moved very close to the shoreline,” says photographer Sean Scott, who was on an expedition spanning the full WA coast. “I got the long lens out and took a test shot of the waves, and the very next wave the sharks were in it. I didn’t see this happen again throughout the next two days that I was there.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Sean Scott Report

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
11 months ago

Wow!

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#2

Nominee: Community Choice Award

Nominee: Community Choice Award

One of the finalists vying for the Community Choice Award, Tobias Baumgaertner of Tobias Visuals, told Bored Panda more about the photo he took of the two widowed penguins gazing upon Melbourne's lights.
"The photo I took was one of those photos that you couldn't have planned if you tried. I went there to take images of the penguin colony and intended to capture a photograph which shows the pressures that human settlement/infrastructure can have on wild animal populations," he said.
"I spent 3 full nights with this particular penguin colony and was lucky enough to witness and capture this moment of love instead. With this moment unfolding in front of my eyes, I received more information about them from a Volunteer which I then disclosed in my first three Instagram posts about these two. It was a story of love and compassion and I am very happy that it has reached so many hearts around the world."
Tobias said that the biggest challenges he faced were the lighting conditions. "Strictly no lights are allowed in close proximity to this penguin colony. So all the light I had available to take this Image was residual light from the nearby city and harbor. Considering that these little Penguins move quite a lot did not make it easy to capture a sharp Image that gave this moment justice."
He continued: "Also, penguins are wildlife and they do not care about a photographer's wishes to position themselves in a particular way. Not only am I very much pro in situ photography and would never relocate my wildlife subjects to create an image, it is also strictly forbidden to touch or interfere with them and, therefore, I ask everyone who is going to visit them to show the utmost respect and keep their distance. Thus I waited for 3 full nights to capture the perfect moment between these two lovebirds."
Tobias said that he's very happy that his photo has touched so many hearts from all over the world. "This image has already reached millions of people with many different cultural backgrounds and beliefs, communicating a message in a language that everyone understands. Love and compassion for one another. What more could I really want?"

Ocean Photography Awards , Tobias Baumgaertner Report

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
11 months ago

Such a romantic date ❤

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#3

Nominee: Community Choice Award

Nominee: Community Choice Award

A humpback whale calf ‘breakdances’ in the warm waters of Tonga. Photographer Jono Allen captured this moment on the final day of a three-week trip searching for an intimate calf encounter. “We hadn’t had any luck during the entire season, and then all of a sudden on the last day we came across this wonderful and joyful calf,” says Allen.

Ocean Photography Awards , Jono Allen Report

Pamela24
Community Member
11 months ago

"Draw me like one of your French girls..."

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"The judging panel spent a lot of time carefully going through the submitted images and then discussing their thoughts together to choose this year’s winners. It was definitely a tricky process, as we received an astonishing array of beautiful imagery for consideration. Each of these judges works tirelessly to protect the ocean, using extraordinary storytelling and photography to catalyze real change. Their time, energy, and expertise are such an important and valuable part of these Awards," a representative of the Ocean Photography Awards team said.

"We’ve got some really exciting speakers for the event on Thursday, and the Awards ceremony will be broadcast from a special extended reality stage in London. Beautiful imagery will be shared and showcased throughout, with nominees joining via video call to hear the judges' final decisions. The winners will also be invited to tell us a little more about their photographs and the important stories they convey."

#4

Nominee: Exploration Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Exploration Photographer Of The Year

A freediver explores a cave in Tonga. Despite having visited this site more than 100 times, photographer Karim Iliya had never see the light quite like it was on this particular day: “It looked like he [the subject] was looking into another world. It made me think about exploration on this planet, and how you can even go somewhere you’ve already been and see it in a new way.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Karim Iliya Report

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
11 months ago

Like a scene from Aquaman or some other Sci Fi movie

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#5

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Nadia Aly is an award-winning wildlife photographer, with a focus on underwater marine life. Her primary goal is to educate people about the diverse populations of sea creatures that exist in the ocean. She hopes her photography can raise awareness and interest in supporting efforts to conserve the ocean and its inhabitants.

Ocean Photography Awards , Nadia Aly Report

NWB
Community Member
11 months ago

Migration Migration!

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#6

Nominee: Community Choice Award

Nominee: Community Choice Award

A Steller sea lion inquisitively peers into photographer Celia Kujala’s dome port off the coast of Hornby Island, British Columbia. “Steller sea lions are listed as near-threatened on the IUCN Red List,” says Kujala. “I hope this image makes people want to protect them and their ocean home.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Celia Kujala Report

Mary Rose Kent
Community Member
11 months ago

💭 Let me dazzle you with my whiskers! 💭

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“The Ocean Photography Awards are a celebration of our beautiful blue planet, as well as a platform to highlight the many plights it is facing,” the Oceanographic Magazine writes on its website.

The judging panel is made up of some of the world’s leading ocean photographers, so you can expect them to go all-in when it comes to picking out the best. Among them are expedition leaders and award-winners who have played an integral part in the conservation of species and raising public awareness about the issues that affect oceans and their denizens.

The judges’ work was far from easy. They had to choose the 100 finalists from more than 3k gorgeous entries. And their work’s only going to get harder as the ceremony ticks closer and closer.

#7

Nominee: Young Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Young Photographer Of The Year

A common dolphin, between two realms. “As I hung over the bow of my family’s boat, camera in hand, I picked a young common dolphin to follow through my lens when suddenly it breaks the surface of the glassy water,” says 17-year-old photographer Kyla McLay. “The dolphin’s beak is barely piercing through the water’s surface, and a wave of froth sits on its back.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Kyla McLay Report

Abigale Brown
Community Member
11 months ago

WOW!!! How absolutely AWESOME & definately gorgeous!!!!

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#8

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Paddle boarders float above a reef at sunset. “This image is one of a series of images aimed at demonstrating the innate bond humans have with the ocean, whether we are physically in it or just floating on the surface,” says photographer Grant Thomas. “In creating this picture, timing was everything; I had to shoot exactly at low tide to be close enough to the reef, while simultaneously capturing the sun as it hit the horizon.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Grant Thomas Report

Mary Rose Kent
Community Member
11 months ago

‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Reef’

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#9

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

A settling wunderpuss photographed at night during a blackwater dive in Anilao, Philippines. “Ninety percent of reef life starts out in this pelagic zone,” says photographer Henley Spiers. “During the day it stays relatively deep, and safe, only coming up to the surface at night to feed. I like to think the wunderpuss was chasing the shrimp that you also see in the bottom of the frame.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Henley Spiers Report

Becca Gizmo the Squirrel
Community Member
11 months ago

This pic is amazing!

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There are 6 award categories plus the overall winner who will share the total prize pool of over a whopping half a million pounds. Some of the categories include the Ocean Adventure Photographer of the Year, the Community Choice Award, and the Ocean Conservation Photographer of the Year.

The competition aims to make the categories as broad and as inclusive as possible so that the “bravest and boldest photographers” don’t shy away from sharing their amazing photographs with the world. The photos also don’t necessarily have to be underwater. The shots can be from up topside. On the coast. Or from out into the sea. So there’s a lot of flexibility and the sky’s the limit (or in this case, the limit’s probably the Mariana Trench).

#10

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Grant Thomas is an award-winning underwater photographer, writer, and expedition guide with a fascination for the natural world. Originally from the United Kingdom, he moved to Asia to work as a scuba-diving instructor. His work has taken him around the world, from the warm tropical waters of Indonesia to the glacier-covered landscape of the Arctic.

Ocean Photography Awards , Grant Thomas Report

Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
11 months ago

Lucky the photographer didn’t end up as lunch.

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#11

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Grant Thomas is an award-winning underwater photographer, writer, and expedition guide with a fascination for the natural world. Originally from the United Kingdom, he moved to Asia to work as a scuba-diving instructor. His work has taken him around the world, from the warm tropical waters of Indonesia to the glacier-covered landscape of the Arctic.

Ocean Photography Awards , Grant Thomas Report

Shellia Ventura
Community Member
11 months ago

So beautiful that it looks like a painting!

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#12

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Orcas surf rough water in Norway. “This moment took place above the Arctic Circle,” says photographer Todd Thimios, “A combination of impossible circumstances and years in the Arctic allowed for this very brief moment to come together – in borderline dangerous weather and fading light.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Todd Thimios Report

Mary Rose Kent
Community Member
11 months ago

Orcas are waaaay too smart!

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#13

Nominee: Conservation Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Conservation Photographer Of The Year

A starving polar bear looks out to sea, waiting for the ice to return. “I was scouting the shoreline when I saw the polar bear on a distant cliff,” says photographer Martin Berg. “The summer had been unusually warm, and the pack ice was further north. Many polar bears, including this one, were stranded ashore.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Martin Berg Report

Mary Rose Kent
Community Member
11 months ago

I hope she finds food soon!

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#14

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

A freediving instructor waits for their student to return from a dive below Cenote Angelita’s microbial cloud – a cloud that separates the light-filled freshwater above and the dark saline water below. “The microbial cloud is so thick that it appears to be a floor,” says photographer Jason Gulley, “and visibility inside it is almost zero. Visibility improves a little as you re-emerge into the pitch black saline water below.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Jason Gulley Report

NWB
Community Member
11 months ago

sounds bloody scary!

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#15

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Marlin and sea lions work a bait ball. “Each year in autumn, mackerel and sardines migrate south along the coast of the Californian Peninsula in Mexico,” says photographer Hannes Klostermann. “They are followed by an armada of predators, the most magnificent of which is the striped marlin. California sea lions, however, often compete with them for feeding opportunities.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Hannes Klostermann Report

ArhomR
Community Member
11 months ago

Would like to see this in colour, too.

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#16

Nominee: Community Choice Award

Nominee: Community Choice Award

Predator and prey, photographed off the coast of Jupiter, Florida. “The sun was going down and the lighting was epic,” says photographer Tanner Mansell. “Evening thunderclouds were building, but light rays were still poking through here and there. Everything came together. When bull sharks attack, they extend their jaws. It was exciting to try to get that moment on camera. This is one of my all-time favourite moments, and all-time favourite shots.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Tanner Mansell Report

ArhomR
Community Member
11 months ago

Lunch has arrived.

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#17

Nominee: Exploration Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Exploration Photographer Of The Year

Penguins march through heavy snowfall and strong winds in St Andrew’s Bay, South Georgia, Antarctica. Photographer Ben Cranke spent a total of 50 hours across five days at this location, accessed via a zodiac from a small yacht. He captured this image on the final day of his expedition.

Ocean Photography Awards , Ben Cranke Report

2763MilesAway
Community Member
11 months ago

cuties

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#18

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Grant Thomas is an award-winning underwater photographer, writer, and expedition guide with a fascination for the natural world. Originally from the United Kingdom, he moved to Asia to work as a scuba-diving instructor. His work has taken him around the world, from the warm tropical waters of Indonesia to the glacier-covered landscape of the Arctic.

Ocean Photography Awards , Grant Thomas Report

Mary Rose Kent
Community Member
11 months ago

Good luck, precious baby!

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#19

Nominee: Conservation Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Conservation Photographer Of The Year

A hermit crab crawls atop a pile of plastic in a shell made from manmade waste. Photographed on the small island of Thanburudhoo in the Maldives, photographer Matt Sharp hopes his image communicates the direct impact plastic pollution is having on the natural world: “We were so shocked at the plastic waste littering the island. And then I saw this hermit crab crawling through the knee-deep plastic. It demonstrates the scale of the problem.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Matt Sharp Report

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
11 months ago

Terrible and sad what are people doing to nature

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#20

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Nadia Aly is an award-winning wildlife photographer, with a focus on underwater marine life. Her primary goal is to educate people about the diverse populations of sea creatures that exist in the ocean. She hopes her photography can raise awareness and interest in supporting efforts to conserve the ocean and its inhabitants.

Ocean Photography Awards , Nadia Aly Report

Perfumista Perfumista
Community Member
11 months ago

These are mine, all mine! Back off!

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#21

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Henley Spiers is an award-winning photographer who has featured regularly in the international press, including The Sunday Times and Der Spiegel, as well as multiple magazine covers. In 2019, he co-authored Black is the New Blue Vol. II, showcasing blackwater diving. His latest book, the Guide to Cebu, was co-written with his wife and frequent collaborator, Jade. Sought after as a teacher and guide, Henley also leads photographic trips to see incredible underwater wildlife encounters around the globe.

Ocean Photography Awards , Henley Spiers Report

Kika González
Community Member
11 months ago

That's a nice backstory but does not explain the picture at all

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#22

Nominee: Exploration Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Exploration Photographer Of The Year

Two technical divers descend into the Blue Abyss, Mexico. This site is accessed by an hour-long underwater scooter ride and a 20-minute swim through a shallow cave system. “You pop through a hole and suddenly the floor drops out to around 70m,” says photographer SJ Bennett. The two divers pictured are at depths of approximately 15m and 30m deep.

Ocean Photography Awards Report

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
11 months ago

Rhapsody in blue

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#23

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Henley Spiers is an award-winning photographer who has featured regularly in the international press, including The Sunday Times and Der Spiegel, as well as multiple magazine covers. In 2019, he co-authored Black is the New Blue Vol. II, showcasing blackwater diving. His latest book, the Guide to Cebu, was co-written with his wife and frequent collaborator, Jade. Sought after as a teacher and guide, Henley also leads photographic trips to see incredible underwater wildlife encounters around the globe.


Ocean Photography Awards , Henley Spiers Report

Bardhi's Dad
Community Member
11 months ago

Poor Nemo, again in danger...

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#24

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

A remora shifts position on a humpback whale. Photographer Craig Parry was hoping to capture a close-up portrait of the whale’s eye when a suckerfish decided to move, providing him with a rare opportunity for a dynamic little-and-large behavioural shot. He has been visiting Vava’u, Tonga, for six years, spending more than 400 hours in the water in search of the perfect eye contact shot.

Ocean Photography Awards , Craig Parry Report

SocksNeverMatch
Community Member
11 months ago

This is an incredible personal moment Craig was able to share with the whale and suckerfish.

#25

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

A surfer at the remote Shipstern Bluff in Tasmania. “Gigantic swells have battered the towering cliffs at Shipstern for millennia,” says photographer Lance Morgan. “The fractured rock walls have slowly succumbed to the wind and waves, and piece by piece, created one of the most dangerous waves in the world. This part of the world is raw, rugged and cold, and help is a long way away.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Lance Morgan Report

Mary Rose Kent
Community Member
11 months ago

Is the ocean green there or is it a filter?

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#26

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Shane Gross is a Canadian marine conservation photojournalist and Emerging League member of the International League of Conservation Photographers. He is currently based in The Bahamas working to conserve queen conch, Nassau grouper, seagrass and mangrove habitats, among others. Shane’s work has been recognised by the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, Underwater Photographer of the Year, Nature Photographer of the Year and many others. He is widely published around the world and his first book, Bahamas Underwater, is out soon.

Ocean Photography Awards , Shane Gross Report

Foxxy (The Original)
Community Member
11 months ago

This is heartbreaking.

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#27

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Nominee: Collective Portfolio Award

Florian is an award-winning wildlife photographer who works in the polar regions. He started his photographic career in the French Navy as a photo reporter. His passion for nature and later the High Arctic led him to pursue personal projects and his dreams of using his love for nature to document the polar regions. By using drones, Florian aspires to bring a new perspective to life in these remote places. 

Ocean Photography Awards , Florian Ledoux Report

Mary Rose Kent
Community Member
11 months ago

At first I thought it was leaves blown onto the snow, and then as I began to look for the source of said leaves, I realized what I was seeing.

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#28

Nominee: Conservation Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Conservation Photographer Of The Year

Survivor. A blue shark clearly displays two hooks protruding from its mouth, two lucky escapes. Photographed off the coast of Rhode Island, photographer Ron Watkins says, “I’d dived with blue sharks off the coast of Southern California in similar conditions, but none ever had hooks like this shark”.

Ocean Photography Awards , Ron Watkins Report

Eva the Egg
Community Member
11 months ago

Nooooo the poor shark - this is so sad

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#29

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Swimmer and environmental activist Lewis Pugh swimming off Antarctica. “We were deep into the Antarctic Peninsula for Lewis’s long distance swim,” says Olle Nordell, expedition photographer for the Lewis Pugh Foundation. “After scouting the bay for a good spot, I positioned myself in a zodiac. My window was small. As Lewis passed me, I framed him with the blue fringe of the glacier.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Olle Nordell Report

Andrew Gibb
Community Member
11 months ago

swimming in those conditions is hardcore

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#30

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

Nominee: Adventure Photographer Of The Year

A silky shark in Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen marine reserve. “I was trying to capture the crazy action of diving with silky sharks in this area,” says photographer Ron Watkins. “I set my shutter speed to 1/10th of a second and aperture to F/16 and spun the camera as the shark quickly approached to imply motion in the photograph.”

Ocean Photography Awards , Ron Watkins Report

ArhomR
Community Member
11 months ago

Wow! Scary.

Note: this post originally had 63 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.