Stunning Underwater Photography Contest Winners (Photos)

Gold

underwater photographer 2016, underwater photography contest

(Image credit: Davide Lopresti/UPY 2016)

Garnering first place in the International Macro category as well as winning "Underwater Photographer of the Year, 2016," Photographer Davide Lopresti offered an image of a golden seahorse. The photographer captured an image of the creature to celebrate its return to the Mediterranean through awareness and protection.

The photo rose above submissions from 54 countries in the the annual contest. Here's a look at some of the winners who snagged prizes in one of the eight categories that encompass different photographic equipment and subjects, and include Wide Angle, Compact, Behavior, Wrecks (shipwrecks) and a few categories to recognize images of local British waters. Read full story on the underwater photo contest]

Catshark Supernova

underwater photographer 2016, underwater photography contest

(Image credit: Dan Bolt/UPY 2016)

Photographer Dan Bolt captured both first place in the British Waters Macro category and "British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2016" with this image of a catshark embryo. This location just off Thurlestone, Devon, is frequented by smallspotted catsharks for laying eggs, and the photographer captured this one encased tightly in sea weed.

According to one of the judges, Martin Edge: "This particular image grew on me over the judging days, and with the last category to resolve it got better and better. Day one, it was all about the silhouette of the Cat shark within the egg case. By day 2 it was the balanced shape and ethereal light of the silhouette. A master-stroke to shape the backlighting with a snooted strobe in the form of wings. Outstanding simplicity."

Three Pillars

underwater photographer 2016, underwater photography contest

(Image credit: Pier Mane/UPY 2016)

While this image, titled "Three Pillars," won first place in the Up & Coming Worldwide Category, it also captured photographer Pier Mane the title of "Up & Coming Underwater Photgrapher of the Year, 2016." Choosing to shoot a more calm subject in more dramatic surroundings, Mane captured a superb view of the shark and its environment.

Fired Up

underwater photographer 2016, underwater photography contest

(Image credit: Marty Engels Dunmore/UPY 2016)

On top of taking Runner Up in the Up & Coming Worldwide Category, photographer Marty Engels Dunmore garnered the "Most Promising British Underwater Photographer, 2016" with this image of the USS Kittiwake in the Grand Caymans. By doing the research beforehand, this photographer captured this unique image from a well-known wreck.

"It takes a lot to impress an old wreck photographer lag like me but here is a quite superb example of how, with a comparatively simple touch, a straightforward technical shot has been so effectively elevated to the eye," said one of the judges Peter Rowlands, in a statement.

Underwater Fisherman

underwater photographer 2016, underwater photography contest

(Image credit: Mike Korostelev/UPY 2016)

With plans to capture a bear fishing in Kuril Lake in Russia, photographer Mike Korostelev crafted an underwater cage to keep himself safe. The effort landed him this image of a bear planning, waiting and capturing multiple fish and winning Korostelev first place in the International Wide Angle category.

One of the judges Alex Mustard called the photo "unforgettable," saying it was more than just an amazing portrait of a brown bear under the water. "It is a precisely timed behavioral portrait, capturing the peak of the action as the bear leaps for a meal and swishes his claw through the stones to snag his food. It is a great composition, taken in a split second in frigid waters of Kamchatka." [Read the full story on the underwater photo contest]

Mangrove Sunset

underwater photographer 2016, underwater photography contest

(Image credit: Fabio Galbiati/UPY 2016)

Due to inclement weather, photographer Fabio Galbiati's plan to dive in the open ocean was canceled. A decision to explore the pristine mangrove ended with this image of mangrove, root to sky, with a nudibranch looking for a snack — not to mention a Runner Up place in the International Wide Angle category.

Octopus at Night

underwater photographer 2016, underwater photography contest

(Image credit: Helen Brierley/UPY 2016)

Floating in the pitch-black open ocean many strange and amazing creatures drifted by photographer Helen Brierley. She snapped this image of a juvenile octopus, snatching the Runner Up place in the International Macro category of the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2016 contest.

"It is not easy to shoot macro portraits of tiny, semi-transparent critters while suspended in the darkness of inner-space: an open ocean black water dive," Mustard said in the statement. "Capturing such a pleasing composition of such an attractive species in these conditions is a great achievement."

A Family Affair

underwater photographer 2016, underwater photography contest

(Image credit: Thomas Heckmann/UPY 2016)

While swimming with his snorkeling 5-year-old daughter, photographer Thomas Heckmann collected this splendid image of a tugboat wreck just off Curacao. Though it took several tries to get it perfect, the image indeed worked, winning him first place in the International Wrecks category.

Truck Parking

underwater photographer 2016, underwater photography contest

(Image credit: Anders Nyberg/UPY 2016)

In the SS Thistlegorm, using off camera strobes, photographer Anders Nyberg and his friend created a stunning image evoking a sense of history and intrigue. The old Ford trucks, the repetition of the lit windows and the smattering of color from the native fish meld mysteriously with the gentle blue light in the background.

Turtle eating Jellyfish

underwater photographer 2016, underwater photography contest

(Image credit: Richard Carey/UPY 2016)

Photographer Richard Carey breakfasted with a Green Turtle near the Similan Islands in Thailand. The reptile came upon a Mosaic Jellyfish and snacked on the creature, resulting in a winning photo in the Behavior category of the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2016 Contest.

"The turtle obviously wanted to keep the jelly close to the surface so every time it swam deeper the turtle would bite onto it and drag it back upwards. I spent a few minutes watching it and taking photos, and then left the turtle to finish his meal in peace," Carey said.

Part of the Illusion

underwater photographer 2016, underwater photography contest

(Image credit: Marcus Blatchford/UPY 2016)

During an exploration dive at the deep end of a UK dive center, photographer Marcus Blatchford captured this dark and moody image with no artificial lighting, landing himself first place in the British Waters Wide Angle category.