The Underwater Photographer of the Year is a yearly contest based in the United Kingdom. As you might expect, the focus is on photos taken under water, whether in the ocean, in lakes or rivers, or even swimming pools.
Though the first Underwater Photographer of the Year award was given out in 1965, the current contest didn’t really start until 2015. Every year since then, thousands of photographers from around the world have entered stunning pictures taken under water.
The pictures are judged in several different categories. This year’s contest had over 5,500 entries from 70 different countries.
The grand prize winner was “Frozen Mobile Home” by French photographer Greg Lecoeur. The photo shows crabeater seals swimming around a small iceberg. To get the picture, Mr. Lecoeur traveled to Antarctica in a small boat and spent time tracking the life around floating icebergs.
Anita Kainrath of the Bahamas said she spent nearly an hour standing in knee-high water being bitten by mosquitos in order to get her picture, which won the Up and coming Underwater Photographer of the Year award.
The picture, called ‘Lemon shark pups in mangrove nursery’ shows exactly that. Ms. Kainrath says the young sharks spend the first 5-8 years of their lives in the protection of the mangroves.
The photo ‘Last Dawn, Last Gasp’ by Pasquale Vassallo of Italy won the award for Marine Conservation [Ocean Protection] Photographer of the Year. Mr. Vassallo said that he went diving early in the morning to snap this picture of a tuna trapped as fishermen pulled their nets in.
Mr. Vassallo also took ‘Octopus training’, a picture that won in the category of “Behavior”. He says that when he came up after a dive, he noticed a soccer ball floating on the surface. When he went to check it out, he saw that there was an octopus hanging from the ball. Mr. Vassallo says he doesn’t understand what the octopus was doing, but wonders if it was training for the World Cup.
Though Rooman Luc of Belgium didn’t win the “Portrait” category, his photo, titled ‘Angry seahorse’, is quite striking. The close-up shot of a seahorse staring sternly into the camera was named runner up (second place). Mr. Luc says that after first hearing about the seahorse, he went looking for it every week for two months before finally finding it.