Discover the wonder of the wide blue yonder, courtesy of these wonderful aquatic photographs.
They’ve been revealed as finalists in the Ocean Photographer of the Year 2023 awards, a prestigious annual contest that’s described as ‘a celebration of our beautiful blue planet as well as a platform to highlight the many plights it is facing’.
Thousands of photographers entered photographs into this year’s competition, showing the full spectrum of ocean life through everything from aerial imagery to underwater photography.
The standout images that have captivated the judges include a stunning shot of humpback whales feeding next to cathedral-like icebergs, a haunting picture of a sunken passenger plane in the Red Sea and an adorable image of a green sea turtle hatchling crawling across the sand in Australia.
Divided across categories such as ‘Wildlife’, ‘Adventure’ and ‘Human Connection’, the overall winners of the contest will be announced in September.
Scroll down to dive into a selection of the spectacular photographs that have made it into the final…
A gentoo penguin – the fastest penguin species in the world – charges across the waters of Antarctica in this magnificent shot, which is a finalist in the ‘Wildlife’ category
A finalist in the ‘Conservation Hope’ category, this image titled ‘The Circle of Life’ shows an endangered green sea turtle hatchling following the path of an adult turtle. When the picture was taken, the adult turtle had just laid her eggs, the photographer, Ross Lang, notes. The photo was taken on Wilson Island, Australia, a significant nesting location in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Protected Zone
A polar bear stands on sea ice in the Arctic Ocean while a large expedition ship brings tourists to the area for wildlife encounters in this striking image, titled ‘Two Different Worlds’. Taken by Dmitry Kokh, it is a finalist in the ‘Conservation Impact’ category
Behold another awe-inspiring photograph in the ‘Conservation Hope’ category, this time taken by Nicholas Hahn. It shows a fever of mobula rays swimming ‘peacefully’ in the shallow waters of the Gulf of California in Baja California Sur, Mexico
A lizardfish opens its mouth and reveals its most recent meal in this astonishing photograph, which was taken by Jack Pokoj in the Philippines. The image is a finalist in the ‘Wildlife’ category
Part of a series by photographer Florian Ledoux, this gripping image shows a polar bear cub as it ‘dances upon the ice’s fragile embrace’ in Svalbard, Norway. It is among the finalists of the ‘Conservation Impact’ category
Henley Spiers is behind this impressive image of a blue-footed booby bird rising up ‘among vast sardine shoals with a fish in its beak’ in Baja California Sur, Mexico. It’s a finalist in the ‘Wildlife’ category
Another finalist in the ‘Wildlife’ category, this colourful portrait by Scott Portelli shows a pair of king penguins during a sunset on the Falkland Islands
This eye-catching photograph of a manatee enjoying the ‘crystal-clear waters’ of Florida’s Homosassa River has earned a place among finalists in the ‘Conservation Hope’ category
In this haunting shot, a scuba diver is dwarfed by the remains of a Lockheed Martin L1011 Tristar plane in the Red Sea in Jordan. The passenger plane was intentionally sunk in 2019. Taken by Martin Broen, the picture is a finalist in the ‘Adventure’ category
LEFT: This eerie picture shows a diver swimming over what’s thought to be Mayan remains in one of the caves of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. A finalist in the ‘Adventure’ category, it’s the work of photographer Martin Broen. RIGHT: In this magical shot, a polar bear walks across a glacier ‘that is adorned by a waterfall’ in the Arctic. It’s the handiwork of Michael Haluwana and is a finalist in the ‘Wildlife’ category
This beautiful image by Michael Haluwana shows humpback whales and their calves feeding before a ‘stunning’ backdrop of ‘cathedral-like icebergs’ in Greenland. It’s a finalist in the ‘Wildlife’ category
Titled ‘The Negative Side of Wildlife Tourism’, this poignant image shows a group of snorkellers swimming alongside a whale shark in Egypt. One member of the group is trying to touch the endangered creature, photographer Laszlo Foldi points out. The image is a finalist in the ‘Conservation Impact’ category
This vibrant shot, taken in Australia, shows two octopuses perched on a pipe that forms part of an artificial reef that was built to attract octopuses and other marine life to the area. The image is a finalist in the ‘Conservation Hope’ category
Cormorants, a type of aquatic bird, can be seen looking for their next meal among swirling fish masses in Baja California Sur, Mexico, in this blue-hued photograph. Taken by Merche Llobera, the shot is a ‘Conservation Hope’ category finalist
This heartbreaking image shows the decaying carcass of a juvenile blacktip reef shark entangled in nets that were abandoned by illegal fishers in a shallow reef off the coast of Phuket, Thailand. Captured by Sirachai Arunrugstichai, it’s part of a series that’s a finalist in the ‘Portfolio’ category
Photographer Celia Kujala was circled by a group of ‘curious’ Steller sea lions when she captured this breathtaking shot, which is a finalist in the ‘Fine Art’ category
This brilliant aerial shot – a finalist in the ‘Human Connection’ category – shows a small part of Ganvie, a floating village in the north part of Lake Nokoue in Benin, West Africa. Photographer Ioannis Pavlos Evangelidis notes that it’s said to be the largest lake village in Africa, with around 30,000 inhabitants
This heart-rending picture shows how a discarded fishing net ‘has become a death trap’ for a stonefish in the waters of Cambodia, photographer Gabrielle Lui notes. It’s a finalist in the ‘Conservation Impact’ category
This wonderful picture, a finalist in the ‘Adventure’ category, shows a freediver surrounded by a shiver of grey reef sharks in the waters of French Polynesia