An eye-catching photo of a pink river dolphin in the Amazon river has won an award for the world's best underwater photographer.
Kat Zhou from the United States was named as Underwater Photographer of the Year, with the competition drawing in more than 600 pictures from photographers in over 72 countries.
Kat Zhou's photo, named 'Boto Encantado', attempts to frame the endangered species whose numbers are falling year on year - capturing dolphin both above and below the surface at sunset.
“There’s a legend among locals that river dolphins, or ‘botos’, can transform into handsome men known as ‘boto encantado’ to seduce women,” she said.
“Though I did not witness the transformation, I was enchanted by these beautiful mammals in a different way. After seeing how botos would sometimes bring their beaks above water, I wanted a split shot at sunset. Though the water was so dark that I was shooting blind, this dolphin gave me a perfect pose and smile!”
“As more people have settled the Amazon, river dolphins began living in closer proximity to human populations,” explained Ms Zhou. “Many river dolphins have been killed for use as fish bait, drowned in gill nets or poisoned by mercury pollution from mining. I fear that one day botos will truly become no more than mythical creatures."
The photography contest, which is based in the UK, named Ollie Clarke as British Underwater Photographer of the Year. The Englishman, now living in Australia, captured a whale shark, the largest fish in the world which was hidden within a bait ball of smaller fish.
Mr Clarke photographed the sharks in Western Australia and named the picture 'The Swarm'.
“Whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef are often accompanied by small groups of fish,” he said. “The fish use the giant shark as a floating shelter. However, this bait-ball was huge with a lot more fish than usual and much denser, so I was really excited to photograph it.”
In the same contest, Spanish photographer, Alvaro Herrero, was named ‘Save Our Seas Foundation’ Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2023, with his photo ‘Hopeless’, taken in Mexico.
His photograph shows a humpback whale dying of starvation because it is unable to swim properly after its tail has been broken from being entangled in ropes and buoys.
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...