The world’s best ocean photographers celebrated

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The winners of the annual Ocean Photographer of the Year awards have just been announced with a French photographer Ben Thouard winning top honors, being named 2022 Ocean Photographer of the Year. His underwater image of a surfer trapped below the surface of one of the heaviest waves in the world was a favorite with the judges. The image was taken in Tahiti, near Teahupo’ofamous for its pillow break, and included on Transworld Surf’s “Top 10 Deadliest Waves” list. It is also commonly referred to as the “heaviest wave in the world”.

© Ben Thouard. Overall Winner – Ocean Photographer of the Year.
The moment a surfer is wiped out and wrung out by the turbulence of one of the heaviest waves in the world.

“It’s the invisible part of surfing,” Thouard said. “I have so much respect for the wave and the surfers – riding such a heavy wave is a huge challenge.”

The contest is a celebration of the beauty of the ocean while being a platform to shine a light on the many issues it faces.

© Katherine Lu. Overall Finalist - Ocean Photographer of the Year.  A blanket octopus displays its beautiful colors and textures.
© Katherine Lu. Overall Finalist – Ocean Photographer of the Year. A blanket octopus displays its beautiful colors and textures. “I got really sick on that dive,” says photographer Katherine Lu. “I spent a lot of time trying to equalize near the surface. When my guide frantically waved me down, I I hesitated for a moment, but I charged forward, pushing myself down. Luckily, my ears evened out and there, before my eyes, was this beautiful blanket octopus. We swam alongside it and then, like magically, she opened her cover to show off in all her glory.

The Ocean Photographer of the Year awards include nine categories along with the overall winner, Ocean Photographer of the Year. The awards were presented by some of the world’s leading ocean and conservation photographers, including Paul Nicklen, Cristina Mittermeir, David Doubilet, Shawn Heinrichs, Andy Mann and Sadie Quarrier.

Categories included Adventure, Wildlife, Fine Art, Conservation Hope, Conservation Impact, Female Fifty Fathoms, and Portfolio, among others.

© Brooke Pyke.  First Place - Fifty Fathoms Women's Award.  A manta ray cruises over a sandy bottom off Coral Bay, Western Australia.
© Brooke Pyke. First Place – Fifty Fathoms Women’s Award.
A manta ray cruises over a sandy bottom off Coral Bay, Western Australia.

american photographer Katherine Lu won second place overall for Ocean Photographer of the Year with his cover image of an octopus captured in the Philippines. Meanwhile Australian photographer Brooke Pike from Western Australia won first place in the Female Fifty Fathoms Award. Created last year, the prize encourages women to share their vision of the underwater world. Pyke became a professional photographer just two years ago.

© Brooke Pyke.  First Place - Fifty Fathoms Women's Award.  A leopard shark cruises the sandy bottom of the Ningaloo Reef lagoon.
© Brooke Pyke. First Place – Fifty Fathoms Women’s Award.
A leopard shark cruises the sandy bottom of the Ningaloo Reef lagoon.

Discover all the category winners on this link.

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