Winners of the 2018 Underwater Photo Competition Show the Beauty of Life Under the Sea

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Underwater photographers from around the world explored the deep blue seas and all its mysteries for the 7th annual Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition. The high caliber of photographs entered across 16 categories made this the most competitive year ever. In the end, photographer Duncan Murrell came away with the top prize for his magical photo of three devil rays frolicking in Honda Bay in the Philippines.

Murrell framed these rarely observed animals in soft, ambient light as they carried out a courtship ritual, with two males pursuing one female. Murrell’s was just one of many incredible images awarded in categories like Marine BehaviorReefscapesPortraitWide Angle, and Macro. Over $80,000 in prizes were awarded to winning photographers, including a trip to the Solomon Islands and diving packages in Indonesia.

“This year’s outstanding underwater images in the Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition continue to raise the bar for underwater photographers,” says Bluewater Photo and Travel owner and Underwater Photography Guide publisher, Scott Gietler. “Myself and the other three judges were honored to be viewing such amazing results of the dedication and drive of the human spirit.”

As the competition continues to push the boundaries of underwater photography, a new category highlighted underwater fine art photography—Underwater Art. This a new category for the 2018 competition allowed photographers to challenge themselves even further in how they depict underwater imagery.

From colorful reefscapes to insightful photographs of marine behavior, the winners of the 2018 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition are incredible reminders of the submerged world that we risk losing if conservation efforts aren’t successful. By pushing themselves to document life underwater, these photographers are doing a service to a public that may not be fully aware of the rich and complex world that lies below.

The winners of the 2018 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition capture the rich complexity of life underwater.

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Gentle Giants”
Humpback whale and her calf (Megaptera novaeangliae).
Wide-Angle, 1st Place. François Baelen.
Shot in Saint-Gilles, Reunion Island with Sony A7III

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Paddle Boarders Sunset”
Wide Angle, 2nd Place. Grant Thomas.
Shot in Ha’apai, Tonga with Canon 5D Mark III

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Nemo”
Ocellaris Clownfish in ritteri sea anemone
Portrait, Honorable Mention. Matteo Visconti.
Shot in Ishigaki Island, Okinawa, Japan with Nikon D850

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Cannibal Crab”
Spider Crabs
Compact Behavior, 1st Place. PT Hirschfield.
Shot in Victoria, Australia with Canon G12 Camera

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Dancing Jellyfish”
Compact Wide Angle, 1st Place. Melody Chuang.
Shot in North-East Coast, Taiwan with Olympus TG5 Camera

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Cleaning”
White Banded Cleaner Shrimp
Marine Life Behavior, 6th Place. Liang Fu.
Shot in Tulamben Bali Indonesia with Canon 5DS

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Inside the Eggs”
Favorinus pacificus and eggs
Nudibranchs, 1st Place. Flavio Vailati.
Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Nikon D500 Camera

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Mangrove”
Soft coral grows on mangrove roots
Reefscapes, 1st Place. Yen-Yi Lee.
Shot in Raja Ampat, Indonesia with Canon 5D Mark IV Camera

Over $80,000 in prizes were awarded to winners of the contest, now in its 7th year.

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Open Eyes”
Dancing shrimp (Rhynchocinetes uritai)
Portrait, 3rd Place. Doris Vierkötter.
Shot in Bali, Indonesia with Canon 7D Mark II

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Smile of a Friend”
American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)
Novice DSLR, 2nd Place. Antonio Pastrana.
Shot in Jucaro, Cuba with Nikon D850 Camera

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Face to Face”
Mirrorless Macro, Honorable Mention. Rafi Amar.
Shot in Shark Paradise, Bahamas with Olympus OM-D E-M1

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Feasting”
Giant Kingfish predating on Giant Crown Jellyfish
Mirrorless Behavior, Honorable Mention. Pier Mane.
Shot in Sodwana Bay, South Africa with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Burst”
California Sealion in the kelp forest
Cold Water, 2nd Place. Tyler Schiffman.
Shot in Monterey bay, United States with Sony A7R III

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Grey Seal Face”
Grey Seal
Cold Water, 1st Place. Greg Lecoeur.

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“The Fight”
Anthias (Pseudanthias squamipinnis)
Marine Life Behavior, 2nd Place. Anders Nyberg.
Shot in Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia with Nikon D500

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Ancistrocheirus”
Sharp-eared enope squid (Ancistricheirus lesseurii).
Macro, 1st Place. Jeff Milisen.
Shot in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii with Canon T1i

The competition is run by Underwater Photography Guide, a leading destination for tutorials, gear reviews, and news on underwater photography.

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Atlantic Spotted Dolphins”
Mirrorless Wide-Angle, 1st Place. Eugene Kitsios.
Shot in Bimini, Bahamas with Olympus E-M1 Camera

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Sunsplit”
Reefscapes, 2nd Place. Tobias Friedrich.
Shot in Red Sea, Egypt with Canon 1DX Mark II

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Porcelain Bloom”
Porcelain Crab
Supermacro, 2nd Place. Wayne Jones.
Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Canon 5D Mark IV

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Special Encounter”
Oceanic Manta Ray
Novice DSLR, 1st Place. Alvin Cheung.
Shot it Socorro, Mexico with Nikon D810 Camera

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“No No!”
Galapagos Sealion (Zalophus wollebaeki)
Mirrorless Wide-Angle, 3rd Place. Pier Main.
Shot in Galapagos Island with Olympus E-M1 Mark II Camera

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Red on Green”
Coral Goby on Coral
Macro, 2nd Place. Kate Tinson.
Shot in North Sulawesi, Indonesia with Olympus TG4

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Foggy Morning in Adams River”
Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)
Cold Water, 5th Place. Eiko Jones.
Shot in British Columbia, Canada with Nikon D800e Camera

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Speedy Cuttlefish”
Cuttlefish (Sepiola sp.)
Macro, 3rd Place. Fabio Iardino.
Shot in Trieste Gulf, Italy with Nikon D850

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“My Babies”
Yellowtail clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii) oxygenating its eggs
Mirrorless Behavior, 1st Place. Fabrice Dudenhofer.
Shot in Amami Oshima Island, Japan with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Sheep on the Shot”
Costasiella sp.
Nudibranchs, Honorable Mention. Chun Ho Tam.
Shot in Lembeh Strait, Indonesia with Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“3 Baby Seahorses”
Big-belly Seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis)
Mirrorless Macro, 1st Place. Steven Walsh.
Shot in Blairgowrie Pier, Victoria, Australia with Sony A7III Camera

Participants could select from 16 different categories, including a new Underwater Art section.

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Disco Nudi”
Hypselodoris bullocki nudibranch
Underwater art, 1st Place. Bruno Van Saen.
Shot in Bali, Indonesia with Nikon D810 Camera

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Discovering the Hidden Face of Yucatan”
Freediver in Cenote
Underwater Art, 3rd Place. Guillaume Néry.
Shot in Yucatan, Mexico with Sony A7R II Camera

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Two Inquisitive Friends”
Australian sea lion pups.
Wide Angle, 3rd Place. Celia Kujala.
Shot in Jurien Bay Marine Park, Western Australia, Australia with Nikon D500

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

Croc in the Mist”
American Crocodile
Portrait, 2rd Place. Christina Barringer.
Shot in Banco Chinchorro, Mexico with Canon 6D Camera

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Chimaera”
Spotted Ratfish (Hydrolagus colliei)
Portrait, 1st Place. Claudio Zori.
Shot in Hurst Island, Canada with Nikon D300S

Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition

“Hairy Flames”
Hairy Shrimp
Supermacro, 1st Place. Edison So.
Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Canon 5D Mark III

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