Best Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 Winners Announced

Swedish photographer Alex Dawson has been named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 for his 'Whale Bones'. The photo depicts a scuba diver exploring the skeleton of a minke whale under the Greenland ice sheet. Tasilac hunters typically take less than a dozen out of a sustainable population of more than 100,000 minke whales in the North Atlantic,” according to Dawson, who share their catch with each other, with families using almost all parts of the whale. But the skeleton was left.

Although depicting a by-product of small-scale whaling, the evocative image raises awareness of declining populations of marine life and wildlife in general. Alex Mustard, a former marine biologist and respected competition judge, said, „The masterful combination invites him to consider our impact on the planet's larger species.”

Underwater photographers capture the most underserved areas of our blue planet and share the wonders of the ocean in challenging conditions. The UPY competition showcases underwater images from photographers around the world and selects winners in twelve categories, such as Macro, Behaviour, Rex or Compact, that showcase British waters. Additionally, another category, the 'Save Our Seas Foundation' Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year, is awarded.

For a full list of winners and runners-up Click here.

Underwater photographer on February 19, 2024. London, UK:

Emotional photo showing a freediver surveying the aftermath of whaling Alex Dawson He was chosen as the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 from Sweden. Dawson's photo 'Whale Bones' beat 6,500 underwater images from underwater photographers from around the world.
„The whale bones were photographed in extremely difficult conditions,” explains Alex Mustard, head of the judging panel, „Breather has descended below the Greenland ice sheet to bear witness to the carcasses. The composition invites us to consider our impact on the larger species of this planet. After the development of humans, wild animals account for 85% have declined. Today, only 4% of mammals are wildlife, the remaining 96% are humans and our livestock. Our approach must change to find balance with nature.

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Whales have dominated this year's winning images with the Spanish photographer Rafael Fernandez Caballero He won two categories with his revealing photos of these ocean giants: a close-up of a gray whale's eye and an action shot of a Bryde's whale sinking an entire ball of bait, both taken in Magdalena Bay, Baja California, Mexico. Fernandez Caballero captured the 'gray whale connection' while floating in a small boat, holding his camera sideways in the water to photograph the curious whale. 'The End of a Baitball' Fernandes had to be in the right place in time to sink Caballero down and make a whale of a move. „The photo shows the speed of the attack,” he said, „the whale devouring hundreds of kilograms of sardines in one bite – it's unforgettable to see a predator on such a scale.”

Lisa Stengel He was selected as the 2024 Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year from the United States for his photo of catching sardine-mahi sardines in Mexico. Stengel captures the moment using both extremely fast shutter speeds and his hearing. „There's a huge volume of sound in the ocean if you listen,” he explained. „The action was too fast to watch, so I felt the sound of the attacks with my camera to capture this special moment.”
„It's a really exciting time in underwater photography, because photographers are going to new places and using the latest cameras to capture such exciting new images,” commented judge Alex Mustard. „I had never seen a photo of a mahi mahi until this year, and now Lisa has photographed a predator that plays in the blink of an eye.”

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This year's Underwater Photographer of the Year competition is based in England, and Jenny Stock, named British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2024 for his film „Star Attraction,” finds beauty in the often overlooked British wildlife. Exploring the west coast of Scotland, Stack explained, “In the dark green depths, my torch picked out the vivid colors of a living carpet of thousands of fragile stars, each with a different shape. I was happily running around and I was so excited when I saw this purple sea urchin.

In the same contest, Portuguese photographer, Nuno Sa, with his photograph 'Saving Goliath' taken in Portugal, was named the Save Our Seas Foundation's 2024 Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year. Sá's photo shows beachgoers trying to save a stranded sperm whale. The film gives us hope that people care about the oceans and want to help, but warns that big changes are needed. „The whale was hit by a ship and its fate was sealed,” explains Sá. „About 20,000 whales are killed every year, and many more injured, after being hit by ships – and few people realize it's happening.”

Macro Category Winner: 'Abstract Portrait of a Potbelly Seahorse' by Talia Greiss (Australia)

WINNER IN REX CATEGORY: 'Leader Tanks' by Martin Brohn (USA)

Black and White Category Winner: 'Water Dancers' by Jasmine Skye Smith (Australia)

Minor Category Winner: 'Nudi on Fire' by Enrico Somogi (Germany)

British Waters Wide Angle Category Winner: 'Divebomb' by Kate Chow (USA)

British Waters Living Together: 'Bottle Blaney' by Kirsty Andrews (United Kingdom)

British Waters Compact Category Winner: 'Catshark in Bootlace' John Bunker (United Kingdom)

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