In Images: 'Alien' Creatures Take Center Stage in Underwater Photo Contest

Judges of the Underwater Photography Guide's Ocean Art 2015 contest had to whittle down thousands of entries to find the top 75 images that fit into 15 categories. Many of the winners, including a larval-stage eel-like creature that glows blue and sports an "alien" gut appendage and a Zeus fish that has an otherworldly body and face. Here's a look at some of the stunning winners. [Read the full story on the underwater photography contest winners on Live Science and on the Underwater Photography Guide

Wide-angle Category

The Satellite

Winning first place, Francesco Visintin captured this image at Forte dei Marmi, in Tuscany Italy. Several factors including rising sea temperatures, mating season, a decrease in natural predators as well as winds and currents concentrated thousands of jellyfishes off the Versilia coast. The photographer, inspired by the calm sea and clear waters, made use of the soft light of the early mornings and sunsets to capture these images. (Credit: Francesco Visintin)

Nemo is in Da House

Matteo Visconti secured second place in the contest by snapping this image of "Nemo" and his family off Fathers Reef at Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea. (Credit: Matteo Visconti)

Humpback Calf

Taking third place with this portrait of a humpback whale calf, the photographer took a chance and risked capturing no images by following his gut and diving in a cove off San Benedicto Island at the Archipeilago Revillagigedo, Mexico, which was not on the agenda. His risk paid off with this proof of his "magnificent encounter." (Credit: Gregory Sherman)

Macro Category

Feeling Exposed

Snagging first place in its category as well as garnering Best in Show, Jeff Milisen captured this image of a larval cusk eel while on a blackwater dive in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. According to information at the time of the contest, this creature has never been photographed before. (Credit: Jeff Milisen)

John Dory

This photographer won second place after encountering the Zeus faber in an unlikely location near Sorrento, Italy at Spiaggia Caterina, Sant'Angello. Due to winter cooling surface waters, the creature was out of his typical habitat. (Credit: Marco Gargiulo)

The Drifter

Securing third place with the unexpected sight of a leptocephalus, the larval stage of an eel, this photographer captured the tiny, translucent creature in an almost defensive pose at West Palm Beach, Florida, during a blackwater dive. (Credit: Lazaro Ruda)

Cold Water Category

Anemone Light

Photographer Lill Haugen acquired first place in the competition with this image of a North sea anemone in the cold, emerald waters of the Oslo Forjd in Norway. (Credit: Lill Haugen)

Lobster Attack

This startling image of a lobster coming aggressively at the camera stole second place. (Credit: Uwe Schmolke)


Off Farnes Island at the Northumberland Coast in the United Kingdowm, grey seals await brave souls who'll entertain them. The animals venture first from behind before building up the courage to approach visitors from the front. The playfulness of the creatures brought the award of third place to the photographer. (Credit: Annika Persson)

Portrait Category

Pilot Whales

In Nice, France, just off shore in the Mediterranean Sea, a pod of Pilot whales interacted with the photographer, allowing him to capture this image and steal first place. (Credit: Greg LeCoeur)

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Peter Leopold snagged second place with this image captured during a research expedition. Under the ice in the Svalbard archipelago in the European Arctic Ocean, the photographer happened upon the crustacean species — an amphipod — checking itself out in an air bubble. (Credit: Peter Leopold)


At Giannutri Island in Italy a large lobster posed for photos at the roots of a posidonia forest, garnering third place for the photographer. (Credit: Filippo Borghi)

Marine Life Behavior Category

Egg Release

A rarely observed event captured on film secured first place for the photographer: at Blue Heron Bridge in Lake worth Lagoon at Riviera Beach, Florida, a striated frogfish pair mates. (Credit: Steven Kovacs)

The Delivery

In Phil Foster State Park at the Blue Heron Bridge at Riviera Beach in Florida, this photographer witnessed the enrapturing mating practices of seahorses, recording the event and taking second place in the competition with his efforts. (Credit: Lureen Ferretti)

Sardine Run

Great timing won third place in its category for the photographer with this image of a Cape Gannet plunging into the surf for some sardines at Port St. Johns in South Africa. (Credit: Greg LeCoeur)

Mirrorless Wide-Angle Category

Wood Turtle

A juvenile Wood Turtle sunning itself at the Bridge Waterfall in Pennsylvania captured first place. This endangered species is rarely seen and to come upon it in its natural habitat allowed for a stunning image. (Credit: Matthew Sullivan)

Mangrove Sunset

Fabio Galbiati settled for a trip ino the mangrove during inclement weather in Indonesia and shot this amazing image of nudibranch preparing to feed at sunset which secured second place in the contest. (Credit: Fabio Galbiati)

Water Lillies

By stepping out of her normal patterns and taking photos in freshwater in Battle Ground Lake in Washington, this photographer snagged third place with an image of water lillies reminiscent of Monet's painting of the same name. (Credit: Laura Tesler)

Compact Wide-Angle Category


Grabbing first place with this image of a dolphin during an afternoon of playing with a family group off of Deshaies, Guadeloupe, Brian Christiansen encourages others to enter into experiences with nature with few expectations. (Credit: Brian Christiansen)


Taking a dive in the pristine waters off Hornby Island in British Columbia, Canada, offered this photographer the opportunity to collect this curious young stellar sea lion. The image took second place in its category. (Credit: Stephen Holinski)

Out of the Blue

This image of nurse shark appearing from the depths won third place in its cateogry. (Credit: Kate Rister)

Live Science Staff
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