The "Underwater Photographer Award of the Year" organized by the British Society of Underwater Photographers has celebrated its 4th ceremony this year. This year over 5,000 images have been submitted by photographers from all over the world and they are hair-raising. So we decided to take out our mask and snorkel to gather a small selection of winning pictures of 2018 for you. Prepare to immerse yourself into the mysterious world that fascinates all of us through these impressive photographs.
"Morning Flight" - Filippo Borghi
Credit: Filippo Borghi / UPY2018
“During spring time from April to June on the coast of Baja California we can witness one of the most impressive migrations of the sea. Thousands of mobula ray's migrate along this coast. I try many times to find this incredible behavior but some how this has not occurred. This year, during a morning safari on the sea we saw a different group of beautiful mobular. I jumped in the water and we followed them for a couple of hours and during this time a small group moved into a shallow area where I was able to shoot in great light.”
"Battle of the Tompots" - Henley Spiers
Credit: Henley Spiers / UPY2018
"Despite appearances, these two Tompot Blennies are not kissing but engaged in a ferocious battle over mating rights. The British summer is mating season amongst Tompots and competition is fierce. I went diving under Swanage Pier in search of these charismatic fish and was delighted to encounter one with the ornate, blue facial markings designed to attract a partner. To my surprise and wonder, he was soon joined by another male and they started tussling. At one point, the dust settled and they remained motionless, jaws locked together, just long enough for me to capture this image. It was a very fortunate encounter and I am delighted to be able to share it through this photo. "
"Humpback whale spy hopping" - Greg Lecoeur
Credit: Greg Lecoeur/ UPY2018
“Each year, I go to Tonga to lead a small group of nature enthusiasts to photograph humpback whales. Tonga offers probably the best opportunity to interact with the whales in blue water. This year was very special, with my friends we had sone of my best moments in my underwater photographer's life: Very curious and playful whales came to investigate us and adopt the spy hopping posture in front of our masks. Although weighing several tens of tons this mammal showed incredible agility and power in holding itself vertically in the water. It was very impressive and we could feel the power of nature but we were also invaded at the same time a feeling of gentleness. I had the chance to freeze this moment with a split shot to recreate a spectacular moment.”
"Friend or Food?!" - Songda Cai
Credit: Songda Cai / UPY2018
“I've had many encounters with this conger eel and I've have taken a few photos, but never have I seen it in such a picturesque manner as this, As if drawing you in by coiling its body and at the same time darting its eyes on a lone prey - it is because of breathtaking sights like this that I fell in love with underwater photography and to do it justice I really aimed to capture the moment in perfect detail. To capture the intricate details of the subject, proper strobe positioning was the key factor in getting the shot that I wanted as even a little error in lighting would rob the picture of its immaculacy.”
"Crocodile Reflections" - Borut Furlan
Credit: Borut Furlan / UPY2018
“When diving was finished for the day, I asked the divemaster to take me back again to a place, where seawater crocodiles are usually seen. I wanted to shoot them in low evening sunlight, when the sky turns into warm colours. When we arrived, the sun was already on the horizon and it was very dark in the water. I pushed ISO settings high to get some warm ambient light into the picture and set the power of my strobes low. Fortunately the crocodile was very cooperative and since we were both very calm, beautiful reflections appeared on the surface. I shot many images with his reflections and this one was my favourite. Since there is a strong graphic element in this picture, conversion into black and white made it even more powerful.”
A sand tiger shark surrounded by tiny bait fish - Tanya Houppermans
Credit: Tanya Houppermans / UPY2018
“I always look forward to diving the wreck of the Caribsea and seeing the fierce-looking, but docile, sand tiger sharks that frequent the wreck. On this day as I descended to the wreck, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Millions of tiny fish, collectively known as "bait fish", were grouped together in an enormous bait ball above the wreck, with dozens of sand tigers lazily meandering among the fish. As I slowly swam to the center of the bait ball, I looked up and noticed a sand tiger a few feet above me. I swam on my back underneath her, trying not to startle her. As I moved with the shark through the water the bait fish parted way, giving me a clear shot of the underside of this beautiful shark, and also one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had yet as an underwater photographer.”
"The fisherman" - Filippo Borghi
Credit: Filippo Borghi / UPY2018
“In winter time in the Izu peninsula in tokio area the asiatic cormorant stop for couple of month before moving to China. So this is the best moment for try to shoot this amazing sea bird during diving and fishing. I Was in this area and I spent two days in a very shallow waters from 5m to 8m waiting for the opportunity to take a right moment for have this photos. Luckily four birds for two days stay in this aera in search of sardine and don't care about my presence during his diving session give me the chance to sort it."
"Seahorse Density" - Shane Gross
Credit: Shane Gross / UPY2018
"The pond I was in has the highest density of seahorses on Earth, but I?ve never seen three together like this before. I was camping on shore and had all night to shoot with the idea of backlighting a single seahorse, but finding three together was a real gift. I was super careful not to disturb them because they will swim away if they?ve had enough. I had my off-camera strobe and an underwater flashlight on a small tripod which I placed behind and below the trio. Then I waited for them to all turn in way that you could see their silhouette. The sun was setting and as it got darker the plankton really began to pile up. When the seahorses ate some of the plankton I could tell they were relaxed. We are still working on getting this special place protection so I cannot reveal the exact location."