True beauty can often lie hidden. The aim of the 'Ocean Photographer of the Year' competition is to uncover it and make it visible for everyone. The themes of this year’s winners enable us to comprehend the staggering beauty of the underwater world. Stunning snapshots convey in a highly emotional way how breath-taking yet fragile and vulnerable this primordial world really is. A vivid appeal for attention – and a ravishingly beautiful one.
Teahupo'o off the Tahitian coast. A surfer tries to conquer the tumultuous power of the ocean in one of the most difficult waves in the world. Ben Thouard’s award-winning image pays equal respect to man and nature with a superb shot of this gigantic challenge.
Catherine Lu actually wanted to abandon this dive, but then her guide signalled to her excitedly. It was fate: suddenly they were able to equalise the pressure, they swam into the depths and there it was: a wonderful specimen of the rare blanket octopus. As if by magic the female, who was around a metre in size, proudly unfolded her full splendour: gloriously shimmering colours and patterns in soft flowing movements. An unforgettable moment – captured for eternity.
DIVING IN BLACKWATER
Pitch-black darkness. Open sea. In close contact with living organisms that ascend from the ocean depths in the still of the night. Blackwater dives that extend to a depth of 2OO metres or more are a fascinating experience – and an opportunity to discover vertical migration up close.
Do you recognise the profile? The eye with its narrow pupil, the light brow and the curve of the nasal wing have literally been shaped by nature: under an oil platform near Los Angeles, a cormorant hunts for food and dives into a huge circular shoal of bait fish. Brook Peterson is responsible for giving the ocean a human face here. Her unique image with a double meaning deservedly wins 3rd place.
FEMALE FIFTY FATHOMS AWARD
Sustainability. A central issue that is now receiving much attention. There is a growing realisation that a future worth living in is only possible in harmony with nature and the environment. Yet not nearly enough is being done. That’s where the annual 'Ocean Photographer of the Year' competition comes in. Blancpain and the Oceanographic Magazine, two renowned and active partners, are the driving force behind the campaign. They want to raise awareness of the fact that the current beauty of the oceans cannot be taken for granted. This habitat is under major threat; preserving it and keeping it healthy requires our full commitment. That’s why they are involved in the scientific research of our ecosystems and in tangible measures to protect the oceans. How can underwater photography make a difference in this campaign? Through their grandiose beauty alone, the wonderful photos support the appeal for us to show responsibility for our actions: through their deep emotionality, they encourage greater sustainable awareness. Around 5,000 participants responded to the OPY call in 2022 and submitted their work in the following categories: wildlife, fine art, conservation hope and conservation impact, adventure, portfolio, human connection and young. The special Female Fifty Fathoms Award was aimed at motivating female divers and photographers to contribute to the preservation of the oceans with inspiring contributions.
Australian Brooke Pyke purchased her first underwater camera in 2014. She now works as a professional diver and photographer at the Ningaloo Reef, where her work makes an important contribution to protecting the oceans. Her deep connection with the ocean is immediately apparent when you gaze at one of her breath-taking photos. The best example is the image that was awarded 1st prize by the jury in the Blancpain Female Fifty Fathoms competition: a majestic manta in the shimmering ocean. On the way to a sustainable, liveable future – this is what we hope for.
The prize In future, Brooke Pyke will be wearing a model from the Fifty Fathoms Diver Watch Collection by Blancpain on her wrist. With its blue clockface and rotatable bezel with ceramic insert, this stainless steel model is an exclusive eye-catcher.