20 of the Most Incredible Underwater Photos Ever Taken
The Underwater Photographer of the Year contest in London received entries from 67 countries rivaling for the top spot. These are some of the most mesmerizing selections.
“Green Turtles in the rays” by Greg Lecoeur (France)
Courtesy Greg LECOEUR/UPY2017
As green turtles started circling Lecoeur in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands in Spain, the photographer captured this gorgeous underwater action shot with sunlight peeking through the surface. See the most gorgeous hot air balloon shots you’ve ever seen.
“Dancing Octopus” by Gabriel Barathieu (France)
Courtesy Gabriel Barathieu/UPY2017
This shot of the alien-looking octopus swimming through a shallow lagoon in Mayotte, an island off Mozambique, earned Barathieu the top title of Underwater Photographer of the Year.
“Your home and my home” by Qing Lin (Canada)
Courtesy Qing Lin/UPY2017
Lin had to take six dives before capturing this photo of the clownfish all opening their mouths at once. Look closely, and you’ll see beady eyes inside. That’s right, those aren’t their tongues—they’re parasites. Don’t miss these 20 arrestingly beautiful photos that stand the test of time.
“Hello, World!” by Jenny Stromvall (Mozambique)
Courtesy Jenny Stromvoll/UPY2017
Diving in Ponta du Ouro in Mozambique, Stromvall noticed a cuttlefish egg that was even darker than the others—it was about to hatch. The photographer snapped her shot just as the newborn was entering the world.
“Oceanic in the Sky” by Horacio Martinez (Argentina)
Courtesy Horacio Martinez/UPY2017
Undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau once described oceanic whitetips as the “most dangerous of all sharks,” but Martinez ventured out to capture one in the Red Sea. These stunning photos will make you appreciate the beauty of life.
“Orca Pod” by Nicholai Georgiou (U.K.)
Courtesy Nicholai Georgiou/UPY2017
As if one killer whale weren’t enough, Georgiou managed to capture an entire pod as they swam by.
“Medusa Blenny on the Lookout” by Jade Hoksbergen (U.K.)
Courtesy Jade Hoksbergen/UPY2017
Blennies are bottom-dwelling fish. Some are brightly colored and wide-eyed, while others seem like they’re scowling. Hoksbergen’s underwater portrait of this particular curmudgeon-looking blenny highlights how the fish blends into its environment. Here are 8 more amazing National Geographic photos to remind you how wondrous the world is.
“Through the coral window” by Léna Remy (France)
Courtesy Léna Remy/UPY2017
Exploring the USS Liberty shipwreck near Tulamben, a small fishing village off the coast of Bali, Remy spotted this curious fish darting around. She framed her shot with flower coral, contrasted with the bright blue of the sea.
“Out of the Blue” by Nick Blake (U.K.)
Courtesy Nick Blake/UPY2017
Swimming in a cave’s natural water pit, Blake captured this stunning shot of a lone diver swimming through beams of sunlight. Check out these 20 stunning wave photos you won’t believe are real.
“Love Birds” by Grant Thomas (U.K.)
Courtesy Grant Thomas/UPY2018
The top half of this photo is what we see day-to-day when we find a swan swimming around a lake. But Thomas waited until mid-day to capture this never-before-seen symmetrical masterpiece of two swans in Loch Lomond taking a dive to feed below the surface of the water.
“Surrounded” by Fan Ping (China)
Courtesy Fan Ping/UPY2018
Though you might not want to be surrounded by Caribbean Reef Sharks on your next beach vacation to the Bahamas (where this photo was taken) you can’t deny how amazing it looks. The blur of the swimming sharks juxtaposes the sharp image of a diver remaining as still as possible making Ping the second runner-up in the wide-angle photo category.
“Fried Egg Anemones at ‘Pixie Gardens’” by Paul Kay (U.K.)
Courtesy Paul Kay/UPY2018
No, those aren’t actually fried eggs under water. These are spotted brittles tars and plumose anemones that Kay found just off the west coast of Scotland. This shows just how colorful life under the sea can be.
“Breathtaking” by Tobias Friedrich (Germany)
Courtesy Tobias Friedrich/UPY2018
You know the saying “just the tip of the iceberg”? Well if you had to put a real-life image to that phrase, you’d get this breathtaking photo. From the top, all you see is the snowy glacier, but below is a whole other world. And it’s real too! However, these fake photos are so incredible that you’ll wish they were real.
“Seahorse Density” by Shane Gross (Canada)
Courtesy Shane Gross/UPY2018
Two is company, but three is definitely a crowd. This photo was taken in the Bahamas, home to the highest density of seahorses on Earth. The exact location is a secret because some are working on getting special protection for the seahorses for conservation efforts.
“Perfect Wheel” by Pekka Tuuri (Finland)
Courtesy Pekka Tuuri/UPY2018
This wheel belonged the German ship, Klaus Oldendorf. She sunk in 1942 (just 30 years after the Titanic went down) in the Baltic Sea. Tuuri took this photo without flash and was able to get the “natural faint green glow” that he witnessed with his own eyes. If you want to witness magical waters, check out these breathtaking waterfalls from around the world.
“In Hinding” by Scott Gutsy Tuason (Philippines)
Courtesy Scott Gutsy Tuason/UPY2018
Tuason placed as the second runner-up in the behavior category with this incredible photo of a jellyfish with a young trevally fish inside of it. So this is what wildlife is up to 250 meters below the sea! Did you know that jellyfish aren’t actually fish? Learn about more animals with surprisingly misleading names.
“The Nose” by Mike Korostelev (Russian Federation)
Courtesy Mike Korostelev/UPY2018
If you ever wanted to be surrounded by the world’s largest concentration of bears without fearing for your life, take a visit to Kuril Lake. Due to the copious amounts of sockeye salmon, the bears aren’t hungry for humans and are pretty comfortable around them. In fact, these bears are playful as Korostelev said that the cubs found his camera in the water and started playing with it. This photo placed second runner-up in the portrait category but could’ve gotten first place if slightly more of the photo was underwater.
“Frogfish Illusion” by Ipah UiD (Malaysia)
Courtesy Ipah UiD/UPY2018
This photo is so trippy because there’s something in the background that isn’t found naturally under the sea. Can you guess what it is? UiD used a CD behind this plain ol’ goby to create the psychedelic effect. These weird animals look so strange even without any props altering their image you won’t believe they’re real.
“Migration” by Austin Ferguson (United States)
Courtesy Austin Ferguson/UPY2018
Thanks to Ferguson, you can witness a male pink salmon trekking his way upstream to get as inland as possible to begin reproduction. This pilgrimage of fish happens every year in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. This reproduction process is more important than ever now because overfishing, salmon farming, and deforestation have caused the population of Pacific salmon to decline.
“Australian Sea Lion” by Greg Lecoeur (France)
Courtesy Greg Lecoeur/UPY2018
The French photographer Lecoeur snapped this curious little fellow posing for him while in Julien Bay in Australia. The special things to note about this image are the symmetry on either side of the sea lion and the beautiful sunshine radiating from above the water. Next, take a look at these rare photos of the ocean’s invertebrates like you’ve never seen them.