These Stunning Photos Celebrate the Strange Magic of Our Oceans

The winners of the most recent Ocean Photography Awards are utterly mesmerizing

Vast, inaccessible, and astonishingly beautiful, the ocean can often feel like an alien place, full of danger and enchantment in equal parts. This makes the achievements of photographers who are able to shine a light on this part of our world all the more impressive, as they draw attention to the threats that the ocean faces, reveal its hidden beauty, and bring us face to face with its fascinating inhabitants.

The recently announced winners of the Ocean Photography Awards, organized by Oceanographic Magazine, are truly incredible achievements in this field. Seven major awards were granted, in categories for Ocean Conservation, Ocean Exploration, Ocean Adventure, Community Choice, Collective Portfolio, and Youth Photography, and six overall winners were announced out of the more than 3,000 submissions. The first place winner is a breathtaking shot of teeming life in the waters off of Baja, California, by Nadia Aly. Other recognized photos highlight the remoteness, the strangeness, and the sheer magic of the sea, each one mesmerizing in its own way. Here’s a selection of the most powerful images.


Ocean Adventure

Collective Portfolios

Nadya Aly

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.

Henley Spiers

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.

Photo: Henley Spiers

Shane Gross

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 recognized 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.

Youth Photography

Community Choice


For more information about these photographs, visit the Ocean Photography Awards site.

Formerly editorial director @BuzzFeed. Currently editor @Tenderly and writer at large. Email: JackAShepherd at gmail

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