Stunning photo shows circling sharks
A stunning image of sharks at sunset has won Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021.
Renee Capozzola took the prestigious prize for her snap of blacktop reef sharks cruising beneath seagulls in French Polynesia.
Sharks' Skylight won out over 4500 underwater pictures entered by underwater photographers from 68 countries.
The win makes Capozzola, from California, the first female photographer to be named overall winner of the prestigious UK-based annual contest.
Capozzola said she was both "honoured" and "surprised'' by the win.
She hoped it would help build awareness of how endangered sharks were as a species.
The photograph was shot in French Polynesia, off the tiny Pacific island of Mo'orea.
"French Polynesia strongly protects its sharks; it's my favourite place to photograph them," Capozzola said.
"I dedicated several evenings to photographing in the shallows at sunset, and I was finally rewarded with this scene - glass-calm water, a rich sunset, sharks and even birds."
Commenting on the winning image, judge Alex Mustard said the photograph showed the ocean "thriving with spectacular life both below and above the surface".
"This is a photograph of hope, a glimpse of how the ocean can be when we give it a chance," he said.
"The photographer not only persevered until this serendipitous scene unfolded, but more importantly Renee had the talent to capture this precise moment.
"The gorgeous lighting is sympathetic, but the picture is made by the elegance of the composition as sharks, sunset and seabirds fleetingly converge."
Mark Kirkland from Glasgow was named British Underwater Photographer of the Year for his inner-city wildlife vision While You Are Sleeping.
The photo, shot in March 2020, was taken in a local pond that fills with frogs over a few winter nights each year.
Another endearing photo, shot by UK photographer Kirsty Andrews, featured a grey seal swimming out from a gully.
"My buddy showed me this Pretty Gully full of dead man's fingers and light coming down through kelp," Andrews said.
"I waited there for a little while, hoping a seal would turn up. In the end I only had one quick pass from one shy seal, but I was able to take this pleasing portrait."
And Alice Bennett, who comes from the UK but lives in Mexico, was named Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 for Tying In, an image of divers exploring a cave.
Commenting on the image, the judges said it had a contemporary feel, and relied on both advanced scuba diving and photographic techniques.
Other award-winning shots included an image of a gothic chamber with stalagmites and stalactites, and a shot named "jellyfish galore", aptly capturing waters rammed with jellyfish.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced with permission
Originally published as Stunning photo shows circling sharks