Winter Photo Contest 2018: Winners Announced

Amsterdam, 03 January 2019 – Towards the end of 2018, we conducted a photo contest and asked people to submit photographs that express their personal encounters with plastic pollution and what they made out of it. The response that we got was tremendous. Not only because so many people participated, but also because every participant had more than one picture to contribute. This shows the extent of plastic pollution that seeps into every nook and cranny of our surroundings.

Choosing the winners has been a very difficult decision because of the quality of the pictures as well as the enthusiasm of all the participants and their dedication to the cause was exceptional. Of all the pictures submitted, 3 powerful and creative images grabbed our attention. Below, we present you with the three winners of our photo contest and their story and motivation behind the pictures:

3. The Kid and the Fish, by Elza Zijlstra


“Since 4 years, I collect plastic from beaches worldwide and turn it into art. I mostly search for small pieces of plastic and was amazed to discover how every beach, even when it looks clean at first sight, is polluted. My art is mostly bright and does not force a message upon people. For this contest however, I wanted to show the relation between environment, food, fish and humans and show the magnitude of the problem. I think art is a powerful tool in the battle against plastic. During exhibitions I always notice that people are impressed that it is possible to fill a whole exhibition room with beach trash. And while watching the art of plastic soup, discussions about pollution start immediately.”


2. Black Water Dive, by Mae Dorricott

“This image was one I shot during a Black water dive in Indonesia. Black water diving is basically a night dive but over deep water, where you’re able to see the plankton and larvae of reef creatures come out of the darkness towards your torch lights like moths to a flame. The biodiversity of these waters are like no other, but just as abundant is the plastic. I thought it was a jellyfish at first as my torch glinted over it, yet alas, it was a fragment of plastic. With a young reef fish using it as shelter, darting this way and that.”


1. Manta Bay, by Brooke Pyke

“For quite a while now I have been spending a lot of time diving east of Bali, Indonesia on a small Island called Nusa Penida. I currently dive very regularly, 2 times a day 6 days a week. Over time you do see big changes in the ocean. From natural seasonal changes as you would expect but other changes as well. Marine debris such as plastic pollution has become a more and more common sight for us here in Penida and I know only too well that this is not even the tip of the ‘trash-burg’ so to say. With approx. 8 million tons of trash ending up in our oceans every year, the amount I see daily is only a small part. The enormity of plastic in the water can at times be so overwhelming and incredibly depressing. It makes you feel helpless as you try to scoop up as much as you can on the dive and fill your BCD pockets with the trash knowing you’re barely making any difference. Practically grabbing plastic bags and packaging, straws and water cups out of the way of the Mantas so they don’t swallow it. But this is just the big pieces. In regards to Manta Rays who are filter feeders the microplastics are really the problem here which are often so small you can’t even see them. The plastic trash we see around the islands here is not an all year round issue but it certainly is becoming worse every year.

There was a dive this year I had at Manta bay (when i took these photos) and the amount of trash was immense. From anything like plastic take away cutlery, to tampons, nappies, laundry liquid packaging… you name it I saw it. I had some guests diving with me at the time and I was actually embarrassed. It’s like taking a good hard look in the mirror and seeing just what we are doing to this planet. Coming up from the dive my guests instantly were looking for someone to blame and asking why is no one doing anything about it. It’s so easy to blame the governments, manufacturers and companies selling these products who of course have some responsibility. I feel we should also start looking more at ourselves and what ways do we contribute to this problem.

Going back to the topic of ‘microplastics’ which is a huge issue here when you think of filter feeding marine megafauna such as Mantas. As you can imagine an animal that has to filter thousands of litres of water per day to obtain adequate nutrition. Micro plastics harbor high levels of toxins and chemical pollutants which are introduced to their body via digestion. These toxin accumulate over time and can cause disruption of biological processes and can even be passed from mother to offspring.”