Rig diver

Alex Mustard's Image

Diving beneath the oil rig, Alex had to anticipate when the cormorants would burst through the fish shoal. The birds hide behind the legs of the rig after they plunge into the dark waters, gaining the element of surprise. Alex used an underwater corrector lens, which allowed him to use his land lens underwater.

Drilling for oil is not generally considered beneficial for wildlife, yet oil rigs can provide shelter and a rich food supply for many animals, including Brandt’s cormorants. These birds are skilled pursuit divers, crashing into the water, their strong feet propel them forward so they can chase shoaling fish.

Behind the lens

Alex Mustard

Alex Mustard


Alex is an underwater photographer with a PhD in Marine Ecology. His work has been awarded in Wildlife Photographer of the Year for more than 15 years. His book Underwater Photography Masterclass is the world's most popular on the subject, and he runs workshops internationally and online. In 2018 he was awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to underwater photography.

Image details

  • Nikon D4
  • 20mm f2.8 lens
  • 1/250 sec at f10  •   ISO 800  •   Carl Zeiss underwater corrector lens  •   Subal housing
  • Eureka Oil Rig, Long Beach, California, USA
Copyright in WPY competition photographs remains the property of the respective photographers. You may not copy, share, reproduce or republish the photographs except as expressly permitted by copyright law. For media image usage enquiries, please contact us.

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