As part of Ocean Festival 2021, new, emerging and established underwater photographers submitted some amazing images depicting the underwater life of our five Aquatic Reserves. Entries closed 30 November 2021.

We are pleased to announce our co-sponsor of this event is NSW Department of Primary Industries.


The judging panel consisted of:

  • Katherine Roberts, Senior Curator, Manly Art Gallery & Museum;
  • Tim Hixson, Renown northern beaches photographer and previous finalist of several Head to Head Photography Competitions whose work is found n the Manly Art Gallery and Museum collections and other private collections.
  • Dr David Harasti, Marine Researcher and Underwater Photographer and highly qualified as the lead judge for this competition.

The judges criteria was to judge each image on its own merit and then within its category, followed by impact of each image, creativity, style, and subject matter.



Overall winner ($1200 prize)

Mauro Barberis - "Fever" 

Artist statement - As a passionate advocate for conservation and mindfulness, I hope to inspire and educate people about the delicate state of our Ocean and how our interaction with the water can help us evolve, connect with ourselves while in harmony with the elements, and hopefully protect what we now began to understand and love.

Judges comments - This photograph is a dynamic composition focussed on the rays and rocks with the sunlight highlighting the gracefulness of the fever of cow nosed rays. The feeling of diagonal flow and motion in the image is outstanding. The rays are being led the light – For the judges this picture has the WOW! Factor??


Marine Flora category ($400 prize)

Andreas Karlsson - "Luxurious real estate, both above and below the sea"

Artist statement - I've always been a passionate scuba diver and snorkeler, CTB has always been one my favourite spots in Sydney. In this shot, I tried to capture the uniqueness of the area by combining the fantastic living conditions for both humans and sea creatures.

Judges comments - The image is a good mix of marine algae Sachan Sargassum and kelp that represents the underwater eco system of Cabbage Tree Bay. It invites the viewer to explore the underwater world and also shows how accessible it is to everyone, in an urban environment.


Marine Fauna category ($400 prize)

Johnavan Ford - "Circle of Life"

Artist statement - This image shows a juvenile Port Jackson Shark holding onto a recently laid egg which would most likely be stolen by a larger shark as this shark would probably not have the jaw size or strength to bite over and squeeze the egg's contents out.

Judges comments - A cracking captive image highlighting the predation of one shark (crested horn) eating the egg of another shark (Port Jackson). – this animal behaviour is a unique event to photograph.


Marine Megafauna category ($400 prize)

John Sear - "Dawn Patrol"

Artist statement - Three Dusky Whaler sharks cruise around the shallows in Cabbage Tree Bay, and the early morning sun rays refract around them. They are nearly big enough to leave the sanctuary of the nursery and head out into the ocean.

Judges comments - A spectacular display of sunlight through water with the Dusky Whaler sharks silhouetted.  The image conveys a sense of calm foreboding as the light spills across the underwater landscape.


Highly Commended ($200 prize)

Alejandro Trevino - "The Secret Cave"

Artist statement - They are usually active at night, so during the day Port Jacksons can be seen resting in the seabed and rocky caves. I had been swimming with this shark for a few minutes until he suddenly turned his path and showed me this spectacular resting spot for sharks, which is one of the most beautiful caves I have seen in the bay.

Judges comments - A wonderful exploration of the underwater world that captures marine flora, fauna and megafauna in an intriguing and magical way.  Five different species of fish and two Port Jackson sharks along with kelp and brown algaes that are representative of the marine environment ..in Cabbage Tree Bay.


People's Choice Award ($400 prize)

Raymonda Dijkwel - "Porcupine"

All images in the online exhibition were in the running for the People's Choice Award. Voting was open from 5-12 December. "Porcupine" was the image that received the most votes.

Artist statement - The juvenile porcupine fish photograph was taken while scuba diving at night. The porcupine was curious, attracted by the dive lights and looked straight into my camera, which resulted in this fish portrait with beautiful yellow highlights.