WPY 2010

Photograph Details

Highly commended 2010

Underwater Worlds

Michael AW, Australia

Manta-ray feast

From May and November, the lagoon on Hanifaru, a tiny islet in the Maldives, fills with plankton - a phenomenon thought to occur when lunar tides push against the Indian Ocean's monsoon current and suck plankton to the surface. Hundreds of manta rays go there to gorge, and Michael joined them. 'Nothing,' he says, 'could have prepared me for the exhilaration of being there. On occasions I was literally sucked into a spiral of huge mantas, bouncing off them, in and out, up and down. The excitement was too great to feel pain. Even with a fish-eye lens, it was impossible to capture the spectacle.'

Technical specification

Nikon D3 + 16mm f2.8 lens; 1/125 sec at f16; ISO 500; Seacam S45 housing; Ikelite S200 strobes.


Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll, Maldives: latitude 5.17619, longitude 73.1497 Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll, Maldives: latitude 5.17619, longitude 73.1497

Hanifaru Bay, Baa Atoll, Maldives

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Michael AW, Australia

Michael is an author, explorer and conservation photographer. He has won over 60 awards, and was named one of the world’s most influential nature photographers by Outdoor Photography in 2010. His work has been published in BBC Wildlife Magazine, National Geographic, Smithsonian, Nature, and Ocean Geographic. He is a senior fellow at the International League of Conservation Photographers.

  • A whale of a mouthful