fish and ray
Manta Entourage Manta rays gliding across the sandy flats on the inside of the Ningaloo reef © Lewis Burnett/TNC Photo Contest 2021


North Beach photographer’s picture glides to top spot

Local North Beach photographer Lewis Burnett has won his share in $16,000 worth of prizes as part of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Australia’s photography contest.

Lewis’ whimsical shot of a Manta Ray gliding across the sandy flats on the inside of the Ningaloo Reef won the Water category. Taken on breath-hold while free diving, the picture, called Manta Entourage, exudes peace and tranquility, showing a Manta surrounded by numerous juvenile Golden Trevally. Manta Rays frequent the inshore bays of the Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia, searching for plankton-rich waters to feed in and seeking shelter from larger open ocean predators.

Throughout the month of August, TNC received more than 10,300 entries across four categories including water, landscape, wildlife and people and nature. The contest aims to inspire Australians to get outdoors and celebrate the beauty of Australia’s nature through photography.

“I'm beyond humbled to have won the Water category for this year's The Nature Conservancy photo contest,” said Lewis. There were some phenomenal entries and some even more impressive judges this year, so it's safe to say I'm pretty chuffed with the result!"

Renowned nature photographer Sean Scott commended the execution of Lewis’ entry in a very dynamic situation.

“The balance and composition were just perfect. Using natural light and capturing the Manta Ray in perfect shape, with the Remora and beautiful small fish, just added that extra depth in both colour and contrast. Well done Lewis,” Sean Scott said.

TNC Australia’s Managing Director Alison Rowe said there was something special about the 2021 competition, with more than 10,300 entries across all categories.

“This year particularly, people have taken the time to reconnect with nature and the environment. Often in challenging times, nature and wildlife provide comfort and distraction. It looks like many photographers have gone out to the great outdoors to find just that and in the process, found inspiration,” she said.

Winners include:

Overall Australian winner – Hannah Le Leu, SA, Against All Odds

Landscape category – Scott Portelli, NSW, Life Colour

Wildlife category – Harrison Warne, QLD, The Dragon and the Hopper

People in Nature category – Scott Portelli, NSW, Mating Season

Water category   Lewis Burnett, WA, Manta Entourage


The winners will share in numerous prizes including Harvey Norman gift cards, Camera Electric vouchers, Sherpa and Bogong gift cards.

To see the winning entries, visit

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organisation dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we focus on getting things done efficiently and with the greatest positive impact for conservation. We’re a trusted organisation working in more than 70 countries and territories around the world on innovative solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. To learn more about The Nature Conservancy in Australia, follow us on Facebook.