Winning Shots from World Oceans Day

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Above Water Seascapes Winner: Caine Delacy

In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly decided that, as from 2009, June 8th would be designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day.” World Oceans Day is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans – and be part of the solutions.

Photography is a powerful medium to convey a feeling or a message, so the World Oceans Day photography competition is an open and free photo competition that seeks to inspire the creation of imagery capturing the beauty, the challenges and the importance of the ocean and humankind’s relation to it, hoping to contribute to actions to preserve it.

Here are the 2019 winners…


Above Water Seascapes Winner: Caine Delacy

Image above

On a stormy morning in Dominica I watched these fishers set a net perhaps 200-300 meters in length; from their small boat. As they started pulling it in the fish caught presumably ballyhoo (Hemiramphus brasiliensis), started to concentrate near the surface and a seemingly empty net soon became full of fish. When one fisher jumped in to close the bottom of the net, the catch was a good as theirs. The next step was to haul it all onto the boat, this is where the difference between industrial and artisanal fishing is found.”


Clean our Oceans Winner: Jacek Dybowski

I took the pictures of this injured shark during a diving safari in the Red Sea, Egypt. The route of the safari was along the golden triangle – Brother’s Island, Deadalus, Elphistone. We met the shark in the waters around the Small Brother Island. The purpose of the safari was generally a meeting of sharks, of which this route is famous for. This is a longimanus shark, which by nature is very curious. When diving boats arrive, sharks appear to observe the divers. They are not afraid, they swim very close to divers. This shark appeared with two others, but only he was swimming with a large group of pilot fish. It was only when he approached very close that one could see that it was wounded.

The feeling was devastating. I had never seen anything like this. In the beginning, I did not know what happened to this shark and what is located on its gills. I was shocked when I noticed that this yellow plastic was cutting the shark very deeply. This had to cause the excruciating pain to it.

When we were discussing on the boat with other divers about what could have happened to this shark, when we were looking at the photos, we came to the conclusion that he was wearing a necklace for fixing the second stage of breathing regulator. The shark had to somehow put it on himself when it was small and growing along with it. This plastic band looked like rooted in. We discussed the possibility of re-diving and trying to remove this plastic, but none of us had experience in this kind of activities. We decided it could be too dangerous.”


Human Interaction – Making a Difference Winner: David Salvatori

Strait of Messina (Italy) – a diver floats in a soup of trillion of tunicates brought together by a very rare combination of currents, winds, moon cycle. Strait of Messina, between end point of Italy peninsula and isle of Sicily, is a unique place where strong currents and steep sea bottoms often create conditions for rare encounters


Underwater Life Winner: Galice Hoarau

Selayar Island, South Sulawesi,Indonesia

Green turtle Chelonia mydas

Green turtles can be found in large numbers in the shallow waters around Selayar. On this dive site 30 to 40 individuals can be found resting and getting cleaned. After spending several dives with them, I was lucky to find this particularly friendly one surrounded by cardinal fish.”


Underwater Seascapes Winner: Renee Capozzola

A healthy soft coral reef explodes with life in Raja Ampat

This image was taken in Raja Ampat, Indonesia where many healthy coral reefs can be found.  Showing an explosion of color and vitality, this flourishing marine ecosystem is a testament to how coral reefs should look.  Here, soft corals bloom into rainbow-hued formations that are full of fish life.  It is my hope that images like this will help to raise awareness for the added protections our oceans need.”


Gender and Oceans Winner: Henley Spiers

Marine biologists Emily and Kari tend to the coral nursery at COMO Cocoa Island. Rapidly rising sea temperatures have devastated somewhere between 60% to 90% of the shallow, stone coral reefs in the Maldives. Initiatives such as this coral garden provide a fast platform for growing coral which can then be used to repopulate the reef.”


Overall Winner 2019 UN World Oceans Day

For more information about World Oceans Day visit the website by clicking here.

Ellen Cuylaerts

Ellen Cuylaerts

As an underwater and wildlife photographer, Fellow of The Explorers Club and having a front seat in exploration being part of the Flag and Honours Committee, Ellen was also recently inducted in the Women Divers Hall of Fame. She travels the world and tries to make the most of every destination and the path that leads her there. Ellen acts as an ocean citizen and believes as divers we should all be ocean ambassadors and lead by example! She’s also a crazy cat lady and lives with her family in the Caribbean.

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