Thursday, July 25, 2024

Rafael Fernandez Wins 2022 Underwater Photographer of the Year Contest


A photo of five whale sharks feeding together at night in the waters off the Maldives resulted in Rafael Fernandez from Spain being named Underwater Photographer of the Year 2022.

Fernandez’s photograph triumphed over 4200 underwater pictures entered by underwater photographers from 71 countries. The photo captures a unique ocean event, taken in demanding photographic conditions.

“Giants Of The Night” features five whale sharks feeding together on nocturnal plankton that have been concentrated in the lights of a boat.

According to Fernandez:

“It was already incredible when one whale shark came to our boat. 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 said:

“This image took my breath away from the first viewing and I never tired coming back to it. Scale, light and the sheer numbers of big subjects, this was, by some distance, our winning image.”

And fellow judge Alex Mustard added:

“Photography needs light and simply recording these giants in a dark ocean is a massive achievement. To do this with such beautiful light and careful composition of the five sharks is outstanding.”

Check out the full list of winners at

Image credit: ©Rafael Fernandez/UPY2022
Image credit: ©Rafael Fernandez/UPY2022
John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.