An astounding photo of five whale sharks, feeding together at night in the waters of the Maldives has won the 2022 Underwater Photographer of the Year contest.
Rafael Fernandez Caballero from Spain triumphed over 4200 underwater pictures entered by photographers from 71 countries. The photo captures a unique ocean event, taken in demanding photographic conditions.
“Giants Of The Night” features five whale sharks, the biggest fish in the world, feeding together on nocturnal plankton that have been concentrated in the lights of a boat. “It was already incredible when one whale shark came to our boat,” explains Fernandez. “But more and more kept arriving. I was diving with Gador Muntaner, a shark researcher, who couldn’t believe it, as their numbers grew.”
“He counted 11 sharks that night – a once in a lifetime encounter that nobody thought was possible.”
Competition judge, Peter Rowlands, commented, “this image took my breath away from the first viewing and I never tired coming back to it.” Judge Alex Mustard said, “photography needs light— and simply recording these giants in a dark ocean is a massive achievement.”
Founded in 1965 by Rowlands, a British photographer, the Underwater Photographer of the Year contest has 13 categories, testing photographers with themes such as Macro, Wide Angle, Behavior—as well as categories for photos taken specifically in British waters.
Matty Smith, an Englishman now living in Australia, was named as British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2022 for a portrait of a great white shark taken in the Neptune Islands, South Australia.
To produce “Great White Split” Smith build a special supersize dome port for his camera, as well as a carbon pole and remote trigger to allow him to get this revealing perspective.
“I had wanted to shoot a charismatic over/under portrait for years,” explained Smith. “Some techniques I had previously tried failed terribly, so this time I designed and constructed my own equipment to get the camera exactly where I wanted. Surprisingly, the sharks were instantly attracted to the camera, in fact it was a battle to stop them biting it!”