Incredible Underwater Images Win International Recognition

This year’s winners of the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 competition have been announced and, as to be expected, the winning images offer an insight into an incredible alien world that lays beneath the water. 

The winning and shortlisted photographs range from fine art style compositions to environmental photojournalistic images, making this year’s results a feast for the eyes.

Renee Capozzola: Overall Winner and Wide-angle Winner of UPY 2021

This image was taken by Renee Capozzola in French Polynesia. Capozzola describes the area as being one of her favourite places to photograph sharks.

“Here there are strong legal protections in place for sharks, allowing them to thrive and help balance the marine ecosystem,” said Capozzola. “During this visit to Moorea, French Polynesia, I spent several evenings in the shallows at sunset, hoping to capture something unique.

“Instead of focusing on split-level images as I often like to do, I decided to try something different. I envisioned and aimed to capture the sharks underwater with the sunset seen through Snell’s window. It took many attempts, but on this one particular evening the water was calm, the sunset was vibrant, and I got extremely lucky with the composition as well. Since many shark species are threatened with extinction throughout the world, it is my hope that images of these beautiful animals will help promote their conservation.”

The photograph was chosen by the judges as the Overall Winner, and was showered with amazing comments from the judges. Underwater photography expert Alex Mustard described the image as “a sunset ballet of reef sharks and sea birds in a tranquil corner of the Pacific Ocean.”

Here are some of the other winning and shortlisted images from this year’s competition categories.

My Backyard

Winner: Mark Kirkland

© Mark Kirkland: While You Sleep / UPY 2021

Up & Coming

Winner: SJ Alice Benett

© SJ Alice Benett – Tying In / UPY 2021

Marine Conservation

Winner: Karim Iliya

© Karim Iliya – Aerial view of a crowded island in Guna Yala / UPY 2021


Winner: Galice Hoarau

© Galice Hoarau – Pontohi pigmy seahorse / UPY 2021


Tobias Friedrich

© Tobias Friedrich – BOWLANDER / UPY 2021


Karim Iliya

© Karim Iliya – A striped marlin in a high speed hunt in Mexico / UPY 2021


Ryohei Ito

© Ryohei Ito – Guardian Deity / UPY 2021

Black and White

Diana Fernie

© Diana Fernie – The Cut / UPY 2021


Jack Berthomier

© Jack Berthomier – Doule (Kuhlia Rupestris) near the surface / UPY 2021

British Waters Macro

Malcolm Nimmo

© Malcolm Nimmo – Portrait of a variable blenny / UPY 2021

Runners up and shortlisted images

Pasquale Vassallo ‘The yellow candy’ : Runner Up Marine Conservation
Renata Romeo ‘Double Turtle’ : Third Place Black & White
Richard Shucksmith ‘The gannet and the mackerel’ : Commended British Waters Wide Angle

A full list of the winners and shortlisted photographs from each category can be found at Underwater Photographer of the Year.


Visit Joe's website

Joe is a photographer, camera and drone operator with a focus on conservation and the natural world. Having worked for a number of wildlife and conservation NGOs, Joe is now working for the BBC NHU on an upcoming landmark series.

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