The Beautiful Winners Of This Year's "Ocean Art" Photo Awards Have Arrived

Strange and wonderful things are captured in the Ocean Art 2023 competition.


Tom Hale


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

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Edited by Laura Simmons
Laura Simmons - Editor and Staff Writer

Laura Simmons

Editor and Staff Writer

Laura is an editor and staff writer at IFLScience. She obtained her Master's in Experimental Neuroscience from Imperial College London.

Byron Conroy won 2nd place in the Macro category for their image of pygmy sea horse in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia

Byron Conroy won 2nd place in the Macro category for this image of a pygmy sea horse in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia.

Image credit: Byron Conroy/Ocean Art 2023 

The Underwater Photography Guide has revealed the winners of their 12th annual Ocean Art competition, showcasing some of the finest underwater photography you’ll see this year.

The Ocean Art 2023 competition featured 14 different categories, ranging from Portrait and Marine Life Behavior to Underwater Conservation and Black & White. They even have a category dedicated solely to nudibranchs, the colorful and desperately photogenic “sea slugs” that inhabit the planet's oceans.


The top prize was swooped by Suliman Alatiqi for their portrait of a crab-eating macaque swimming through the ocean near the Phi Phi Islands, Thailand.

Portrait of a Crab-Eating Macaque swimming through the ocean near the Phi Phi Islands, Thailand.
"Aquatic Primate" won the Best in Show prize and the Portrait category.
Image credit: Suliman Alatiqi/Ocean Art 2023

Originally submitted to the Portrait category, the judges picked the image as the "Best in Show" winner as the shot took months of planning to document, which they said in a press release seen by IFLScience “represents the zeal and commitment needed to capture the world’s best underwater image.”

“During fieldwork at Phi Phi Islands, Thailand, spanning several weeks, I focused my efforts on documenting the maritime behavior of the Crab-eating macaque with particular focus on their water forages,” Alatiqi said in a statement explaining the winning photo. 

“The macaques have adapted very well to living around the sea and will venture into the water for various reasons including transportation, scavenging, cooling down and playing. Highly efficient swimmers, they can dive for up to half a minute and can cover short distances faster than most humans. This photo offers a rare glimpse of the swimming movement of a male macaque,” Alatiqi added.

Tiny seahorse seen in black water in the sea near Puerto Galera, Mindoro, Philippines
"Cavalluccio" won first place in the Macro category.
Image credit: Alberto Casati/Ocean Art 2023

This year’s competition saw the judges – renowned underwater photographers Tony Wu, Mark Stickland, and Marty Snyderman – sift through thousands of images from over 90 countries. This year’s competition also featured new rules that banned generative AI imagery in the primary categories, meaning these photos are 100 percent real.

A total of $120,000 in prize money was awarded to this year’s category winners, while many others won prizes gifted by top scuba diving resorts, liveaboard dive yachts, and underwater photo gear manufacturers.

A curated selection of this year's winners (and some of our favorites) can be seen below.

A flock of Mahi-Mahi fish swimming in the blue sea.
"Mahi-Mahi Bloom": Honorable mention in the Wide Angle category.
Image credit: Fabien Michenet/Ocean Art 2023
Gulf Signal Blenny (Emblemaria hypacanthus) fish being backflip on a reef.
"Backlit Blenny": Honorable mention in the Macro category.
Image credit: Greg Sherman/Ocean Art 2023
A gang of Whitetip reef sharks under the sea in Roca Partida, Mexico
"Bunk Buddies": First place in the Wide Angle category.
Image credit: Suliman Alatiqi/Ocean Art 2023
A black and white photograph of a seal swimming around underwater in San Carlos Beach, Monterey, California, USA
"Afternoon Acrobatics": Second place in the Black & White category.
Image credit: Jon Anderson/Ocean Art 2023
Decapitated shark heads skilled by fisher in Magdalena Bay, Mexico
"Massacre": Second place in Underwater Conservation.
Image credit: Yinan Liu/Ocean Art 2023
a colorful Nudibranchs sea slug
"After the Wedding": First place in the Nudibranch category.
Image credit: Peter Pogany/Ocean Art 2023
Black cardinal fish spraying eggs from its mouth in the sea around Miura Peninsula in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
"The Birthday": First place in Marine Life Behavior.
Image credit: Kenji Sato/Ocean Art 2023
pod of dolphins swim in the blue waters of ocean
"Spinner Stampede": Second place in the Wide Angle category.
Image credit: Ines Goovaerts/Ocean Art 2023
Pygmy squid eating a tiny shrimp in the blackwaters of Japan.
"Squid Hunting" won first place in the Blackwater category.
Image credit: Keigo Kawamura/Ocean Art 2023

If this kind of photography is your thing, be sure to check out the previous winners of the Ocean Art competition here and here.


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  • deep sea,

  • marine life,

  • sea creatures,

  • ocean conservation,

  • photography competition,

  • underwater photography