Photo: François Baelen / 2018 Ocean Art Contest

2018's Award-Winning Ocean Photos Will Transport You to Another Planet

In the sapphire-to-stygian waters that cover 70 percent of Earth’s surface, fish school in iridescent sheets, whales sing mournful tunes, and jellyfish bloom like wildflowers. The ocean is a teeming mystery that most of us rarely dip our toes in. Thankfully, underwater photographers are working to bring portraits of its inhabitants back to shore.

And in 2018, those photographers delivered in a big way. The results of this year’s Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition, a 7-year-running contest organized by the organized by the Underwater Photography Guide, have just been announced and the winning photos—culled from thousands of submissions across 70 countries—might just convince you it’s time to start exploring the deep.

This year’s competition awarded over $80,000 worth of prizes in 16 categories, including marine life behavior, cold water, and an entire section devoted to brightly-colored sea slugs called nudibranchs. The competition also included categories for various methods of underwater photography, like mirrorless and DSLR.

While underwater photography may sound like a niche activity exclusive to those with private company submersibles and expensive cameras, Scott Gietler, Underwater Photography Guide publisher who served as one of the competition’s four judges, told Earther that more and more amateurs are taking it up, thanks in part to the advent of better and cheaper smartphone cameras.

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