Thank you to those who took the time to enter their photographs into our 2021 Keep Our Oceans Clean Photo Contest during last month’s #PlasticFreeJuly themed event. Our panel of judges were blown away by each photo submission and the commitments made to preserving the environment around us from the threat of plastic pollution.

The photos we received showed us scenes of coastal research in action, marine mammals taking flight above the water line, dancing schools of fish, striking shorebirds, and even wildlife rescues from entanglement. Contestants’ photos showed us not only the beauty of our ocean and waterways, but the threats these precious resources are facing.

Now, without further delay, here are the winners of the 2021 Keep Our Oceans Clean Photo Contest:


First Place Winner: Bethany G. of Gainesville, Florida

Photographer note: “What motivates me to reduce my plastic use is the knowledge that I’m decreasing environmental risks to species that already have the toughest of odds. For example, a sea turtle has a 1 in 1,000 chance of making it to adulthood. If I can prevent even just one jellyfish-looking, plastic item from drifting in the ocean, I’m helping make a difference.”

Check out more of Bethany’s work.


Second Place (Tie!) Winner: Melissa M. of Port St. John, Florida


Photographer note: “We collect trash on the beach, including all types of plastic, to protect marine life such as vulnerable sea turtle hatchlings. This isn’t a broken ping pong ball, it’s a recently hatched sea turtle egg, and the bag of trash is just one we collected all around the nesting site. If we can make it easier for the hatchlings to reach the sea safely, we’ll happily do it!”


Second Place (Tie!) Winner: Mark K. of St. Augustine, Florida


Photographer note: “Protecting those places that are cherished to us is important to me. Showing the beauty above and beneath the waves is crucial, and plastics in the form of trash destroy so much wildlife and seascape scenes. I want to do my part to help not be part of the problem, but the solution.”

Check out more of Mark’s work.


Thank you to everyone who submitted photos—you helped make this photo contest a success. Enjoy the contest’s honorable mentions below. We look forward to what’s to come next year. Until then, thank you for keeping our oceans clean!