Recognized globally for his exciting underwater images, Tony Karacsonyi is well known as a great marine and nature photographer. Living near Ulladulla, Australia, on the New South Wales south coast, he credits the Pacific Ocean with providing him plenty of inspiration.

“One of the reasons I enjoy living where I do is because we have access to the open sea. I love the changing patterns of marine life, such as when the giant Australian cuttlefish mate in early winter, when the port jackson sharks arrive in winter and the sprinkling of tropical species we see in summer. Of course, I love the humpback whales during winter, too,” Tony attests.
In 1998, he was awarded the prestigious Australian Geographic Photographer of the Year for photography of giant cuttlefish. He also won several international awards, including a runner up position in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award in 1996. This award was for an “other worldly” macro shot of a little known red amphipod called Amaryllis. Scientists hadn’t yet given it a species name. Another award was for a shot of a red Indian fish he took at Jervis Bay.

“I am always inspired by the work of other marine photographers,” says Tony. “There are so many excellent photographers today and underwater photographic equipment has advanced immensely. When I first started, we all used Nikonos cameras, and to own a housed system, like an Aquatica, was the absolute ‘bees knees’ of photography. A few years later, I moved into housed systems; but in retrospect, we managed some of our best wide angle shots with the Nikonos.”

Marine photography has taken Tony to some of the world’s great underwater places such as Papua New Guinea’s Siassi, Trobriand and D’Entrecasteaux Islands, the Maldives, the Great Barrier Reef, the Ningaloo Reefs and the Coral Sea.

“Some of the best diving I have done is on the Flinders Reefs in Australia’s Coral Sea and in Papua New Guinea,” notes Tony. “I have, however, by no means done it all and would love to explore places like Tahiti, Indonesia and the Solomons. Every dive is a new experience for me.”

He continues, “Kavieng, Papua New Guinea, was wonderful because of the sheer variety of marine life. We would jump over the side in five meters of water and see anemonefish and fire gobies. Then, five meters away, we would see gray reef sharks, eagle rays and green turtles. It’s an amazing area for diving.”
His most recent expeditions have been to the Ningaloo Reefs in Western Australia.

He reflects, “We were very lucky to see whale sharks at the Ningaloo Reefs in July this year, and I was amazed at the great diversity of indo-pacific species. We even saw indo-pacific humpback dolphins, which look quite different to the bottlenose dolphins we see on the East coast. There were many green turtles, too.”

Other trips have included those to Labuan in Sabah. “The shipwreck diving there was very good, and we saw a large purple mottley frogfish on the Blue Water Wreck. It looked at me as if to say, “You’re out of film and bottom time, so come back later.”

Tony’s aims are to keep traveling and photographing, but he also has larger goals — to help with marine conservation. “Our coral reefs need help fast. The reefs of South East Asia are being destroyed at an alarming rate. I want to do what I can to raise awareness and help preserve these amazing places.”