Stunning photo of alien-like life form wins Ocean Photographer of the Year 2023

Ocean Photographer of the Year 2023
Overall winner, A Paper Nautilus drifts on a piece of ocean debris at night, surrounded by heavy sediment, Philippines (Image credit: Jialing Cai)

Jialing Cai, a 25-year-old marine biologist and amateur photographer has been awarded Ocean Photographer of the Year 2023. Her top-prize-winning capture of a paper nautilus gracefully gliding on a piece of ocean debris was taken during a blackwater dive following a volcanic eruption in the Philippines. Cai has been awarded a £1,500 cash prize, the opportunity to join an Ocean Census expedition, an Instagram takeover at SeaLegacy plus more. 

Cai's journey into the realm of blackwater photography was ignited by her fascination with diel vertical migration, where zooplankton ascends from the deep ocean to the surface under the cover of night. She recalls her moment of revelation, saying, "That hit me like lightning. My professor was telling me the deep sea was within my reach, that it would come to me. That realization was mind-blowing. It's why I've become so obsessed with blackwater photography."

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.