Presenting the best ocean photographs of 2023

Overall winner from Jialing Cai - a paper nautilus drifts on ocean debris at night. Image: Ocean Photographer of the Year/Jialing Cai

The winners of the Ocean Photographer of the Year 2023 competition have been announced.

Marine biologist and amateur photographer Jialing Cai has been named overall winner, with her stunning image of a paper nautilus – a type of octopus - floating on a piece of ocean debris. The image was taken on a blackwater night dive following the Taal Volcano eruption in the Philippines.

Cai said, “Navigating through the low visibility and dense fog during a blackwater dive, I found this female paper nautilus.

“When I pressed the shutter, the particles reflected my light. The scene felt unusually serene following the natural disaster and reminds me of a fairytale set in a snowy night."

Andrei Savin was named runner-up with his astonishing image of a crab sat in the middle of a sea anemone in the Philippines.

Runner-up Andrei Savin - a crab sits in the centre of a sea anemone. Image: Ocean Photographer of the Year/Andrei Savin

Savin said, “It’s insanely interesting to watch the same creatures day after day and I love to study them as they evolve.

"That day I took dozens of shots of an anemone with different settings. Suddenly, as if by magic, a crab came out and sat right in the centre. I just had to press the button."

The Ocean Photographer of the Year, from Oceanographic magazine, is a celebration of the blue planet, as well as a platform to highlight the plights it is facing. Thousands of drone, underwater and coastal images were submitted by photographers of all disciplines and experience.

Nine categories were judged by a panel of some of the world’s leading ocean photographers. Category winners included:

Ocean Conservation Photographer of the Year (Hope) category winner Sylvie Ayer - a manatee enjoys the crystal-clear waters of the Homosassa River, Florida. Image: Ocean Photographer of the Year/Sylvie Ayer
Female Fifty Fathoms category winner, Merche Llobera - a striped marlin hunts a bait ball in Mexico. Image: Ocean Photographer of the Year/Merche Llobera
Young Ocean Photographer of the Year category winner Jarvis Smallman - a bodyboarder paddles out to sea in Western Australia, while storm clouds block the sun. Image: Ocean Photographer of the Year/Jarvis Smallman

All this year’s imagery will be displayed at a five-month exhibition at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, Australia, opening on 17 November 2023.