Stunning images win Underwater Photographer 2020 awards

Published: March 15, 2020 · Updated: March 16, 2020

French photographer Greg Lecoeur has been named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2020 for his balletic photograph of crabeater seals swirling around an iceberg.

Lecoeur’s photograph was selected from over 5,500 entries submitted from 70 countries. During a trip to Antarctica on a small yacht,  he was able to document wildlife on icebergs as they drifted at the whim of polar currents.

“Massive and mysterious habitats,” explained Lecoeur, “little is known about how wildlife thrives around these mobile homes. Icebergs fertilize the oceans by carrying nutrients from land that spark blooms of marine life and also provide homes for larger animals, like these crabeater seals.”

Lecoeur lives in Nice, France, but works full time as a photographer, travelling the world documenting life in the oceans.

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Italian photographer, Pasquale Vassallo was was named Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2020 for his photo of the final moments of a tuna’s life as it was hauled up towards a fishing boat. Vassallo took the photo in the Mediterranean Sea, near his hometown of Naples.

“This winter I accompanied some local fishermen,” said Vassallo. “Diving at dawn, I followed the nets as they were hauled up from the depths, revealing a conveyor belt of dead and dying wildlife, such as this little tunny tuna gasping for life.”

Much of what happens in the oceans goes unseen, but such powerful images help make more people aware.

Anita Kainrath, from Austria, was named the Up and Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2020 for her picture of baby lemon sharks thriving in a mangrove in the Bahamas.

Kainrath, from Vienna, explained the challenges of capturing the image, “I was standing in knee-high water, trying to hold my camera still, waiting for the sharks, while mosquitoes and sand flies were feasting on me. After about an hour the lemon shark pups finally came into photographic range and I was able to make this image.”

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Nick More, from England, was named as British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2020 for his pop-art style photograph of a rabbitfish taken in Indonesia.

“I created this effect in-camera,” explained More, “by zooming my lens at the same time as I hit the shutter. My flash has frozen the central fish while the ambient light is blurred by the zooming.”

The title of Most Promising British Underwater Photographer, 2020 goes to Nur Tucker from Wimbledon, England for an artistic panning photo of a seahorse. Her creative image used an in-camera double exposure to create a feeling of waves surrounding this seahorse. Tucker says, “I love experimenting and I have tried many different techniques, with varying degrees of success. After many attempts, everything came together with this shot.”

Underwater Photographer of the Year is an annual competition, based in the UK, that celebrates photography beneath the surface of the ocean, lakes, rivers and even swimming pools. The competition has 13 categories, testing photographers with themes such as macro, wide-angle, behaviour and wreck photography.

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