Ever wanted to see what a fish looks like with a mouth full of its own eggs? Your luck is in. The 2021 Ocean Photography Awards winners have just been revealed, showcasing the deep in all of its bizarre and fantastic beauty, and highlighting the continuing effects of human consumption on marine life.

(You might also want to check out the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards nominees, if you're into funny looking fish)

ocean-photography-awards-fish-eggs-mouth.jpgA male yellowhead jawfish mouthbrooding its eggs until they are ready to hatch

As photographers braved shark-infested waters to capture the perfect shot, this year the spotlight was put on themes of underwater conservation, adventure and exploration. 

Claiming the top spot, Aimee Jan was crowned Ocean Photographer of the Year 2021, with the photograph below.

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While snorkeling in the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, Jan turned her lens on a school of glass fish. From the centre emerged a green sea turtle, providing the money shot and clinching Jan the title.

The judges say: “The Ocean Photography Awards has a simple mission: to shine a light on the beauty of the ocean and the threats it faces.” This dual mission can be seen in the number of entries which draw attention to the devastating impact of pollution on marine life.

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One photograph by Steven Kovacs shows us a lizardfish trying to devour a cigarette filter. Another by Nicholas Samaras shows a seahorse clinging to a disposable face mask. We weep.

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Second place went to Henly Spiers for his photograph of diving gannets in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. Third place was given to Matty Smith and his photograph of a hawksbill turtle hatching, making its first journey out to sea. 

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Seven categories featured in the competition, including the debut of the Female Fifty Fathoms Award, which celebrates female ocean photographers. This prize went to Los-Angeles-based photographer and biology teacher, Renee Capozzola, and her image capturing a blacktip reef shark lining up its dorsal fin perfectly with the setting sun in French Polynesia. 

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The crown for Young Ocean Photography of the Year goes to Hannah Le Leu, for this oh-so-sweet snap of a green sea turtle hatchling surfacing for air under a sky full of hungry birds on Heron Island, Australia. 

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For those hoping for a closer look at the collection, a free outdoor exhibition alongside the River Thames, near Tower Bridge, London, will run until 17 October 2021.

See more photos below, and the full whack at OceanPhotographyAwards.com.

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