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Piho’s turtle photo captures nature prize at Tokyo International Foto Awards

Tuesday 9 January 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Entertainment, Environment, Features, Local, National

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Piho’s turtle photo captures nature prize at Tokyo International Foto Awards
Titled “Bubbles”, Charlotte Piho’s photograph of the famous turtle Aria, whose video went viral globally, has won her many awards. CHARLOTTE PIHO/24010809

Cook Islands photographer Charlotte Piho has reached another peak in her career, capturing first place in the Tokyo International Foto Awards 2023 for the Nature-Underwater category.

Titled “Bubbles”, Piho’s photograph of the famous turtle Aria, whose video went viral globally, has won her many awards.

Piho said that having her work, photographed in the Cook Islands, recognised by a new audience and new eyes in the creative circles of Tokyo, Japan, was very humbling.

“I've reached many of my goals now with photography awards, and would love to win again in the New Zealand Geographic Photography awards.”

Winning numerous awards in 2023 was certainly a highlight of Piho’s photography career, but she has even bigger dreams for the future.

This year, her goals include having her work published in National Geographic and travelling more internationally with her family in pursuit of new unique encounters while also sharing the work she has done over the years in the Cook Islands. 

Next month, Piho will be jetting off to Dubai for the prestigious Xposure Festival, where she’ll be representing Oceania.

“This will connect me with many of the top photographers and filmmakers around the world,” Piho said.

“2024 is shaping up to be a great year to share my work from our little island paradise not just to Japan but globally.”


Charlotte Piho’s photographs featured on Sydney Opera House for World Oceans Day in 2021. SUPPLIED / 24010808 / 240108010

Xposure says: “What sets Charlotte Piho apart is her ability to grant a voice to marine life, forging an unspoken connection between the aquatic world and humanity.”

“Charlotte Piho, with her extraordinary talent, has not only redefined oceanic photography but has also become a storyteller, weaving narratives that inspire awe and foster a newfound appreciation for the wonders of the deep blue.”

In an earlier interview, Piho explained that Aria, the beautiful green sea turtle in the Cook Islands that blows bubbles from her mouth, has become one of the most beloved turtles in the world.

A video of Aria, posted by Piho in April 2022, made waves internationally, shared across six countries and platforms, including the prestigious CBS.

“Aria’s behaviour helps to close boundaries between humans and animals. She shows that animals just like humans are vulnerable, can be playful and also have their own distinct personalities,” Piho said in an earlier interview.

“By raising awareness of how special they are, it encourages people to protect them by not polluting our oceans. For instance, by participating in coastal clean-ups and reducing plastic use.”