Double interest

Scott Portelli's Image

Scott Portelli (Australia) shares the object of his focus with an inquisitive sea lion.

Scott's fascination with an elaborately camouflaged leafy seadragon piqued the curiosity of an Australian sea lion off the coast of Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia. Rolling in the kelp, the sea lion investigated Scott's muse without disturbing it.

Found only in Australian waters, Australian sea lions were heavily hunted in the past. Today, they remain endangered due to entanglement in fishing nets and human disturbance. Leafy seadragons only live along the western coast of Australia, hiding amongst kelp, other seaweeds and seagrass. But the kelp beds they rely on are becoming increasingly damaged by human activity and pollution.

Without these kelp forests, leafy seadragons are unable to camouflage or shelter and sea lions are forced to hunt in open waters, risking attacks from great white sharks and orcas. Scott's dual portrait captures a rarely seen interaction between these two elusive species.

How you can help

  • Kelp forests are a valuable habitat for many species and are important for fighting climate change because they absorb considerable amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. Support kelp forest growth by monitoring seaweeds local to you and talking to your friends and family about their importance.
  • Think carefully about the natural places you visit, one of the key disruptors for sea lion breeding colonies is the presence of humans.
  • Sea lions are further threatened by entanglement in gillnets used by commercial fisheries. Try to buy fish that is line- or pole-caught, as these methods of fishing greatly reduce the risk of bycatch – accidentally catching species other than the one intended.

See all the images in focus.

Behind the lens

Scott Portelli

Scott Portelli


Scott has spent more than two decades working in the underwater environment, producing a unique portfolio of underwater photography that showcases this intricate environment and its intriguing inhabitants. Working in extreme conditions, Scott produces photography that provides a rarely seen glimpse above and below the surface in some of the harshest places on the planet.

Image details

  • Olympus E-M1 Mark II
  • 8mm lens
  • 1/250 sec at f9  •   ISO 320  •   Olympus housing  •   UFL-3 strobes
  • Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia, Australia
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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