Nature Canada
Patrick Hulley

Nature Canada’s Favourite Ocean Photos

Nature Canada has just launched its 10th annual photo contest!

Nature Canada is so excited to announce our 10th annual photo contest this year! For Ocean Week, we decided to highlight some of our favourite ocean and ocean-related photos submissions from past years. These favourites have been featured in past editions of Nature Canada’s calendar.

Our Favourites

Orca by Eileen Redding (2014)

Behind the lens:
“I was on a whale watching tour, east of Campbell River, BC, in the Strait of Georgia. It was a grey, gloomy day. We were only about 20 minutes out when we spotted the pod. I feel so fortunate to have seen them, and to get four breathtaking frames of one breaching in front of us.”

Gannet by Larry Kirtley (2014)

Behind the lens:
“I took this photo at Bonaventure Island National Park near Gaspé, QC, home to one of the largest colonies of Northern Gannets in the world. You have to take a boat, and then it’s a bit of a walk but when you reach the birds, the trip is well worth it!”

Bull Killer Whale by Gary Sutton (2017)

Behind the lens:
“I was the last boat out in the Strait of Georgia with a resident group of killer whales known as J Pod. They were all tightly grouped together in a resting mode when, all of sudden, they woke up and started getting very active. Spyhops, tail slaps and, as I was shooting all of that, J27 ‘Blackberry’ popped up in the middle of the frame completely out of the water! This 26 year old whale has always been one of my favourites and you can obviously see why! J27 and the rest of his kin have had a tough few years with the declining salmon stocks, particularly chinook salmon, in our waters. They heavily rely on the Fraser River fish for their summer diet and the Fraser has not yielded very big returns of chinook salmon in the last few years. We try and educate people daily about the trouble this population is in and how they can help. Support sustainable fisheries, cut back on disposable plastics and use responsible cleaning products. This culture of killer whales is very special and with only 77 whales left, we need to give them every chance to rebound and flourish in our waters again.”

Atlantic Puffin With Wild Iris by Megan Lorenz (2018)

Behind the lens:
“Atlantic Puffins often land onshore within feet of people in Elliston, Newfoundland. While onshore, they rest, interact with each other, and collect nesting material like this iris. If you go there for a visit, please don’t pick the flowers!”

Breaching Humpback by Derek Kyostia (2020)

Behind the lens:
“An over-energetic Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), the ‘ballerina of the sea’ repeatedly breaches on a beautiful sunny summer morning in British Columbia. Barnacles inhabiting the throat grooves can be seen expelling water.”

Walrus Drift in Placid Waters of Foxe Basin, NU by Derek Kyostia (2020)

Behind the lens:
“Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus) cast always adrift on an ice floe on the placid waters of the Fox Basin, NU under a fog bow over the northern horizon.”

Sea Lion by Patrick Hulley (2022)

Behind the lens:
“A California Sea Lion eyes up the splash of the waves it is about to dive into within the Broken Group Islands, a part of the Pacific Rim National Park Preserve. The waves were rolling pretty well when I shot this and I was laying flat and low as I could on the boat to capture this composition. I always believe the goal of a photograph is to bring the viewer there, into the moment of the photo. The rolling playfulness of the waves and low-down view work well to do that with this photo of a Sea Lion within the waves of Barkley Sound, off the coast of Ucluelet, British Columbia.”

Honourable Mentions

Here is a list of photos that we love and thought deserved an honourable mention:

Orca Breaching, Telegraph Cove by Sharron Palmer-Hunt (2019)

Behind the lens:
“This is the first shot in a series of a transient orca ( identified as transient vs resident by a more sharply pointed tip on their dorsal fin) breaching while travelling in the Johnstone Strait by Telegraph Cove in British Columbia. I was very excited as I took a burst of photos on my Nikon 850 camera ( 200- 500 ml lens) at just the right moment. Patience and perseverance always pays off when capturing wildlife photos. “

Humpback Whale Tail by Eric Bartlett (2019)

Behind the lens:
“This was photographed from a zodiac out of Witless Bay, NL. I was with a group of photographers when I took this shot on July 21, 2019 at around 7:30 pm NL time. That evening the ocean was very turbulent and so was the weather. In fact, it rained so hard at times that we all got wet through our survival suits. From experience we know that humpback whales love to play in turbulent waters so we were on the lookout. Often a calf will swim with its mother and it’s the calf who usually gets active by breaching, slapping their tails or doing crazy things like twisting their tails before entering the water. These whales travel our coastline annually and follow the capelin which is a big source of food for them. It’s never easy to get shots like this and even more difficult to get breaches where they jump out of the water. Also, these scenes happen very quickly and if you’re not ready you will miss the shot. For example, I shot this at 1/2000s at ISO 1600 on a 300mm Nikon prime lens set to f2.8. Because this action is so fast and furious, fast shutter speeds are critical to capturing sharp images. Sorry, about the technical’s stuff but I’m just trying to illustrate the difficulty of capturing these mammals especially in a rocking zodiac. In terms of size, they could be 20 or 30 tons. Watching and capturing these massive mammals at 50-60 feet distance is an incredible experience . The size, force and power is very evident when witnessed at ocean level in a zodiac. I think I captured some of this in my shot.”

White Sided Dolphin by Bruce Sharock (2019)

Behind the lens:
“We were out on the water North of Campbell River (Northern end of Quadra Island) when we were swarmed by a pod of over 100 White Sided Dolphins. As I was taking pictures this dolphin wanted to be a star and jumped out of the water for me to take the picture.”

Have any of your own ocean or ocean animal photos that you want to share? Submit any ocean or nature-themed photos to this year’s Nature Photo Contest.

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