A diver frees one of 17 sea turtles drowned by a discarded fishing net off the Brazilian coast in the winning shot of Marine Photobank's 2010 Ocean in Focus Conservation Photo Contest.
Marine Photobank's mission is to advance ocean conservation by providing free, high-quality marine pictures to media and noncommercial outlets. For this photo contest, Marine Photobank was looking for powerful images that "illuminate the many threats facing our ocean." (The National Geographic Society, which owns National Geographic News, donated prizes for the contest winners.)
"Turtles are in serious trouble," commented marine ecologist and National Geographic explorer-in-residence Sylvia Earle. "Their numbers are even more depressed than [other] ocean wildlife. Maybe 5 percent of some species remain." (Take an ocean-issues quiz.)
"The good news is the ocean is large and resilient. The bad news is that there's a limit to resilience," Earle added. "We see 90 percent of many of the big fish gone, 40 percent of the plankton gone, half the coral reefs gone or in a state of serious degradation, [and now] hundreds of dead zones. All this is serious, bad news.
"The good news is that there's still plenty of reason for hope. The ocean is not dead. We still have 10 percent of many of the species that are in sharp decline. ... We still have a chance, but we have to hurry."