In many ways, the ocean is the Earth’s last frontier. We just don’t know what lies and lives on the bottom of the Mariana Trench and other oceanic depths across the world. And for the everyday person, even the shallow areas of the ocean are a complete mystery.
Luckily, we have international photo contests like the Ocean Photographer of the Year competition that encompass the best marine photos of every year. This way, we can peek into this mysterious and unknown marine world from the comfort of our own homes.
We begin this list with the winning image, which was taken by French Polynesian photographer Ben Thouard as he was freediving in the ocean. The image captures a surfer trapped under a Teahupo'o, translated as “place of skulls,” which is one of the heaviest waves in the world.
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Ocean Photographer of the Year Winner: "A surfer battles one of the heaviest waves in the world following a wipe-out" by Ben Thouard (Tahiti, French Polynesia)
"A green turtle, surrounded by glass fish" by Aimee Jan (Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia)
"Surfer Matahi Drollet catches a wave known as Teahupo’o in Tahiti" by Ben Thouard (Tahiti, French Polynesia)
"A seemingly giant blue crab" by Martin Broen (Mexico)
"A cormorant dives through a huge school of baitfish, creating a series of shapes that mimic a human face" by Brook Peterson (United States)
"A seagull flys past a large wave breaking in the light of the rising sun" by Gergo Rugli (Australia)
"A portrait of a squid" by Matty Smith (Bushrangers Bay, Australia)
"A wave known as Teahupo’o, as seen from below" by Ben Thouard (Tahiti, French Polynesia)
"How many sea snakes can you see?" by Brooke Pyke (Western Australia)
"A freediver duck dives to capture a photograph of a humpback whale" by Sebastien Pontoizeau (Réunion Island)
"Surfer Jack Robinson rides the famous break known as ‘The Right’, home to some of the heaviest waves in the world" by Phil de Glanville (Denmark, Western Australia)
"A turtle passes a bleached reef" by Ishino Shota (Japan)
"Speleothems cast long shadows at cenote Dos Pisos" by Martin Broen (Quintana Roo, Mexico)
"A blanket octopus shows off its beautiful patterns and colors" by Katherine Lu (Philippines)