Checkout The Winners of The Words Best Underwater Photographer

The winner of the 2022 Underwater Photographer of the Year contest goes to an incredible photo of five whale sharks feeding together at night just off the coast of the Maldives.

The man behind the camera Rafael Fernandez Caballero from Spain came out on top of over 4200 underwater photos submitted by photographers from 71 different countries. It’s an astonishing photo capturing a very unique event in extremely demanding photographic conditions.

The image titled “Giants Of The Night” features five whale sharks which are the biggest fish in the world feeding on plankton that has been lit up by the boat’s lights.

Rafael explained “It was already incredible when one whale shark came to our boat,” explains Fernandez. “But more and more kept arriving. I was diving with Gador Muntaner, a shark researcher, who couldn’t believe it, as their numbers grew.”

“He counted 11 sharks that night – a once in a lifetime encounter that nobody thought was possible.”

Peter Rowlands, a judge said, “this image took my breath away from the first viewing and I never tired coming back to it.”

Alex Mustard, another competition judge said, “photography needs light— and simply recording these giants in a dark ocean is a massive achievement.”

Englishman Matty Smith who now lives in Australia was been crowned British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2022 for a fear-inducing Great White Shark photo taken in the Neptune Islands, South Australia.

Smith commented, “I had wanted to shoot a charismatic over/under portrait for years, some techniques I had previously tried failed terribly, so this time I designed and constructed my own equipment to get the camera exactly where I wanted. Surprisingly, the sharks were instantly attracted to the camera, in fact it was a battle to stop them biting it!”

Always encouraging new photographic talent the competition titled Qucio Abadal from Spain the Up & Coming Photographer of the Year for this stunning photo captured off the Sairee Beach, Koh Tao, Thailand.

“This photo features Jeniya, who moves so poetically in the water, what I like about this photograph is the imperfection of backscatter in the dark water, creating the feeling of outer space and making it perfect to me.” Abadal shared.

The ‘My Backyard’ category was won by Pekka Tuuri from Finland. It took him four days and  four nights in a local pond wearing a drysuit and a lot of layers to capture a photo of frogs mating which he titled ‘All you need is love’.

“I floated and stayed put among the frogs and quite soon they accepted me and my camera as a part of the scenery. The frogs climb on top of my camera, make grunting sounds in my ears and squeeze between my face and the backplate of the camera. The active spawning time lasts about two days and nights. What an experience!”

Hannah Le Leu from Australia took third place in the Wide Angle category, with a photo titled ‘Against All Odds’.

She shared, “It cautiously surfaces for air to a sky full of hungry birds. Against all odds, this hatchling must battle through the conditions of a raging storm whilst evading a myriad of predators, not only has the tropical storm brought out thousands of circling birds, but there are also patrolling sharks and large schools of fish on the hunt for baby turtles. Only one in 1000 of these hatchlings will survive.”

Javier Murcia, a runner up in the Behaviour category submitted this photo called ‘the Circle of Life’.

“A diseased species is usually easy prey for a predator. In this case, a Mediterranean predatory fish has hunted a green fish (Labrus viridis), abundant in the Mediterranean. The moment was unique, the green wrasse swam slowly and roughly, it was probably sick, and a few meters away I could see the sawing hiding among the dense posidonia meadow to hunt it down. It was a matter of being patient and in the blink of an eye I caught it. It was so interested in swallowing it that I was able to get within a few inches without flinching.”

Which was your favourite underwater photographer?

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