Fish and diver
Mating season - press release Mating season // There are very few creatures in the animal kingdom that are so complex, so unique and so alien to us that we are mystified by their very existence. Imagine a creature that has three hearts, blue blood, and the ability to alter its appearance. Hundreds of thousands of giant Australian cuttlefish (Sepia apama) gather each winter from May to August in the shallow waters of South Australia’s Upper Spe © Scott Portelli/TNC Photo Contest 2021


Hues of wetlands life and giant cuttlefish encounter: Sydney photographer claims top spot... twice!

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Sydney photographer Scott Portelli has won his share in $16,000 worth of prizes as part of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) Australia’s photography contest. Scott’s photos claimed the top spot in not only one but two categories of the contest!

Scott’s fabulous picture, titled Mating Season, depicts a choreography-like encounter between a man and six Giant Australian Cuttlefish. The photo won the People and Nature category.

“Hundreds of thousands of Giant Australian Cuttlefish gather each winter from May to August in the shallow waters of South Australia’s Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park,” said Scott.  “There are very few creatures in the animal kingdom that are so complex, so unique and so alien to us that we are mystified by their very existence.”

Renowned nature photographer and TNC photo contest judge Adrian Alford said the elements flowed beautifully in the photograph, from the seaweed into the cuttlefish and the streams of light flowing down through the top of the water. “It’s a wonderfully composed image. The diver looking on observing nature in all its beauty also conveys a nice message, ‘enjoy, embrace and leave in peace.’”

Scott’s other entry, Life Colour, won the Landscape category and was awarded an Honorable mention in TNC’s global photo contest. The spectacular aerial shot of the Gulf of Carpentaria shows lush green mangroves lining the mud flats, accentuated by the tidal waters and months of rain filling the artesian basin.

Renowned Australian photographer Christian Fletcher, who was judging the Landscape category, said the image talked about the importance of life-giving water and how, without it, we would all struggle.

“I love this aerial photograph as it captures the amazingly complex tidal river systems typical of the north of the country,” Christian said. “I love the way nature is able to thrive closer to the water source and how it struggles further from it. The image is more relevant today as we live with the effects of climate change.”

TNC’s Managing Director Alison Rowe said there was something special about the 2021 contest, with a more than 10,300 entries received throughout the month of August across four 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.

"I am honoured to be awarded at the Nature Conservancy of Australia Photography contest this year, and even more humbled to be announced as the winner in two categories.” said Scott. “To be able to share these aspects of our natural world from both above and below is so rewarding and a great way to express the importance of Australia's vast ecosystems and the need to protect them. Thank you for this prestigious honour and for all the amazing work The Nature Conservancy Australia does to educate, protect and support our environment."

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 and Nature category – Scott Portelli, NSW, 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.