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Ocean in Focus conservation photography contest

Ocean in Focus conservation photography contest - Seaweb and Project Aware announce annual photo contest winners.

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Matthew Potenski

SeaWeb and the Project Aware Foundation have announced that Matthew Potenski has won the The Ocean in Focus Grand Prize in the second annual conservation photography contest. There were hundreds of submissions from both amateur and professional photographers.

Press Release:


SeaWeb and the Project Aware Foundation today announced the winners of their second annual Ocean in Focus conservation photography contest. This year’s contest attracted hundreds of submissions to SeaWeb’s Marine Photobank from both amateur and professional photographers who have donated images depicting not just the magnificence of the ocean but also the environmental impacts degrading it.

Conservation images are key to advancing protection of underwater environments and the call for eco photos is on the rise,” said Dawn M. Martin, president of SeaWeb. “The ocean has long been a subject of great inspiration for photographers. But now more than ever photographers from around the world have learned that they can harness the power of the lens to illuminate the impacts on marine ecosystems and help save and restore the health and beauty of our ocean.

The Ocean in Focus Grand Prize was awarded to Matthew Potenski, a photographer and director of field operations at the Shark Research Institute. The institute is a nonprofit organization based in Princeton, New Jersey, that works to promote shark conservation. Potenski’s winning shot was that of a mangrove shoot standing in the path of a backhoe that is in the process of tearing into prime lemon shark habitat. “This captivating photo shines a light on both the hope for and the threats to our marine environments and their struggle to survive against all odds,” said Martin. Potenski receives a grand prize package that includes seven nights of ocean-view accommodations and six days diving for two at Matava, a premier eco-adventure resort in Fiji.

Among the environmental impacts highlighted in this year’s contest submissions was the danger of discarded fishing nets catching untargeted marine life. These were well represented in this year’s selections, and first prize winners Viora Alessio and Csaba Tokolyi each depicted this issue in the following two contest categories, respectively: Ecosystem Decline/Species of Concern and Humans and the Ocean: Impacts and Solutions.

Two world-renowned photographers served as contest judges: filmmaker Bob Talbot and Wolcott Henry, founder of the Marine Photobank. “The impact of human activity on coral reefs, and the ocean overall, continues to increase,” said Henry. “As divers, documenting these impacts and what is being done to counter them is a personal way of contributing to the conservation of what we want to protect. It is a great pleasure to see the number and quality of images submitted to this year’s Ocean in Focus conservation photography contest, including many from other countries.

All winning images and other submissions can be viewed at and downloaded from the Marine Photobank.

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