Out of the Blue: The Prince of Wales’s Commonwealth Environmental Photography Awards is now closed. Congratulations to all our winners! Please go to the Winners’ Gallery to see the winning photographs. We would like to thank all those who entered the competition. Your images helped to highlight the value and importance of our oceans to delegates at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2015.

The Overall Winner of Out of the Blue: The Prince of Wales’s Commonwealth Environmental Photography Awards was Ashley Wee, whose image, ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ was taken in the Bahamas by Ashley whilst snorkelling. She gave the following description of her image:

‘While snorkeling just off the north coast of Nassau, Bahamas, I came upon a group of sea turtles — about 6 or 7 of them. As we drifted within a few feet of them, these turtles were not disturbed by human presence as they maintained a quiet and natural demeanor. One in particular caught my attention, as it was bobbing at the surface. It made me think about this animal and how it was affected by things both above and below the ocean.’ Nature will always continue to impress us with its beauty and it is something we must not take for granted. As humans, we need to learn to appreciate this beauty without disturbing it in order to ensure preservation for future generations.’

The judges were impressed by the way that Ashley had captured the moment in which the turtle gasps for air. Hanli Prinsloo said the beauty of the image lay in its simplicity; “Ocean, sky, turtle.” She also commented: “what immediately captivated me with [this image] was the implied vulnerability of the animal. The neck stretched up to the sky, the mouth slightly open and the implied gasp for air. In many ways for me this embodies the state of our oceans.”

Judge Kevin Casha also noted the vulnerability depicted in the image:The feeling this image gave me was of an ocean species (the turtle) gasping for air and its very existence”. Terence Dormer pointed out the relevance of this photograph to the competition and explained why this photograph is so poignant: “Sea turtles, like us, depend on water and on air. If the quality of either is affected adversely, both we and they will suffer. Sadly, all species of sea turtle are endangered.”

Finally, Daniel Beltra summarised why this image was chosen as the competition winner in his comment: “A perfect winner for the ‘Out of the Blue’ contest. A gasp of fresh air and also a cry for the ocean and its creatures that are suffering the impact of humans.”

Ashley was present at a special prize giving event that took place on the 27th of November at the Maritime Museum in Malta. She was awarded her prize by HRH The Prince of Wales whose International Sustainability Unit  initiated and led the competition with support from the Royal Commonwealth Society and National Geographic‘s Pristine Seas Initiative. HRH was able to visit the exhibition which included all 26 category winners, runners up and highly commended entries.