A peek into Polynesia; Underwater Photographer of the Year winner

Moorea, a small, heart-shaped volcano island in French Polynesia, has well and truly been put on the map this year.

It’s surrounding waters are the new face of the annual Underwater Photographer of the Year award. After looking at the photo, it’s not hard to see why.

American photographer Renee Capozzola took the photo at sunset, later titling it Sharks’ Starlight. She positioned herself towards the bottom of the sea, capturing white-bellied nurse sharks as they glided through the water.

Beyond the surface, the sky is awash with melting purples, pinks and oranges, drawing parallels to a watercolour painting. Seagulls circle above, oblivious to their upcoming fame.

the image that won the Underwater Photographer of the Year award
Sharks’ Starlight © Underwater Photographer of the Year/Renee Capozzola

The image emits a calming ambience despite its so-called dangerous counterparts.

When speaking on the image that won her Underwater Photographer of the Year, Capozzola said that her photograph promotes the conservation of endangered sharks around the world.

Capozzola wants her work to inspire people to help protect threatened shark species around the world.

The Underwater Photographer of the Year award has been around since 2015, but its history extends well beyond that. The competition draws its heritage back to the first Brighton Underwater Film Festival in 1965.

Since then, it has definitely picked up traction. Over 5,500 photographs from around the world were submitted in 2020. These came from 500 of the world’s best underwater photographers, hoping to claim the title of Underwater Photographer of the Year.

the location that won the Underwater Photographer of the Year award
As the destination of the winning photo from the Underwater Photographer of the Year competition, Moorea in French Polynesia is on our radar. Credit: Shutterstock

Moorea and it’s neighbouring islands have become a natural playground for the reef-obsessed, showcasing an amazing underwater ecosystem with rare marine life. Despite its new-found fame, the islands remain one of the world’s hidden gems.

Yet, perhaps not for long now that Moorea has been brought to everyone’s attention.

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