Nicolas Remy has won the Conservation – Hope Category in the Ocean photographer of the year competition.
With more than 5000 participants, OPY is one of the largest photography contests dedicated to oceans imagery, both below and above the surface. The winning and finalist images are a treat for the eye, which can be enjoyed on Oceanographic magazine website, and category winners are exhibited on the London Tower Bridge, until November 7th.
About Conservation & the Conservation-Hope category
A few words on conservation and the “Hope” category of the OPY competition By Nicolas Remy:
Conservation images tend to depict the brutal reality of the threats faced by our oceans and their inhabitants. Whilst we absolutely need these images to create awareness and calls to action, we also need to share the good news, to not lose sight that our oceans can recover, if we give them a chance (the sooner the better). This is what the “hope” category is all about, and the good news with my photo is about the critically endangered Grey Nurse Sharks.
Indeed, there are a few spots along Australia’s East Coast where you can still dive with 20+ grey nurse sharks, and Fish Rock (where I took this image) is perhaps the most famous of them.
Still a far cry from the 1960s, where aggregations of 30+ grey nurse sharks were reliably spotted in 60 dive sites along Australia's East coast, but it seems the population has been slowly growing since it became protected in 1984. I am writing it “seems”, because keeping track of this migratory species is a complex task.
Also, their recovery is slow because it takes 6-7 years for a grey nurse shark to reach sexual maturity, and they only breed every 2 years, giving birth to only 2 pups.
Consequently, Grey nurse sharks are not out of the woods yet, but with continued research and mitigation of the threats they still face (e.g. accidental injury by fishing hooks, deadly if swallowed), I have hope that our kids will be able to dive with wild grey nurse sharks, and their grand-kids too!
About the Photo
This photo showcases the aggregation of critically endangered grey nurse sharks which can be seen around Fish Rock island (off South West Rocks, NSW, Australia). The sharks are often scattered around the island, but on that Summer day, the water temperature dropped overnight from 25 to 17 degrees Celsius, due to upwelling, caused by Northerly winds. This drove the sharks to gather in the shallows, in search for extra warmth. Luckily my wife Lena and myself were in South West Rocks when it happened, and we dove every day for 5 days in a row, to make the best of these special conditions. Each morning, we would jump in the water for a single, 3-hours long rebreather dive.
This gave us the chance to experience times of profound, serene contemplation, while being surrounded by 20 to 30 un-baited sharks, fully relaxed in the silence of our rebreathers (unlike traditional SCUBA, there are no bubbles nor regulator noise).
Within these hours of contemplative diving, there have been a few moments where everything lined-up, from an atmosphere and composition perspectives. This photo depicts one of these moments.
Visit our website and search for “Fish Rock” for more.
About Nicolas REMY
Nicolas and his wife Lena REMY are two Sydney-based underwater photographers. Visit their website to see more of their work: https://www.nicolaslenaremy.com