Laurent Ballesta's Image

For five years Laurent and his team returned to this lagoon, diving day and night to see the annual spawning of camouflage groupers. They were joined after dark by reef sharks hunting the fish.

Spawning happens around the full moon in July, when up to 20,000 fish gather in Fakarava in a narrow southern channel linking the lagoon with the ocean. Overfishing threatens this species, but here the fish are protected within a biosphere reserve.

Read more about how Laurent captured his winning shot or watch as he explores the importance of this unique event.

Behind the lens

Laurent Ballesta

Laurent Ballesta


Laurent has authored 13 photography books on underwater wildlife. As co-founder of Andromède Océanologie he has been leading major expeditions for 10 years. He illustrates the underwater world as a naturalist and artist, whether through the first pictures of a coelacanth taken by a diver at 120 metres deep, 700 sharks of Fakarava hunting at night, or the deepest and longest dive in Antarctica.

Image details

  • Nikon D5
  • 17–35mm f2.8 lens at 17mm
  • 1/200 sec at f11  •   ISO 1600 Seacam housing Seacam strobes1/200 sec at f11  •   ISO 1600 Seacam housing Seacam strobes
  • Fakarava, Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia
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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