Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water along comes the Underwater Photographer of the Year competition with some of the most stunning and captivating marine images you will ever see.
First ran in 1965 when British photographer Phil Smith won, today the Underwater Photographer Of The Year awards has 10 categories and more than 4,500 picture entries from 67 different countries around the globe, and has also served as a reminder of just how beautiful and precious the world’s oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, streams and other bodies of water really are.
The winner of this year’s top award though, was a photograph of a hunting octopus by French diver Gabriel Barathieu, which was taken in the lagoon of the tiny island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean.
Barathieu said of the image: “I had to wait for a low spring tide when the water was just 30cm deep (1 foot) so that the octopus would fill the water column”.
The winner of the British award was Nick Blake from Dublin, Ireland for his photo ‘Out Of The Blue’ taken in a freshwater sinkhole in Mexico known as Chac Mool Cenote.
Take a look at some more of the category winners and highly commended efforts below, and for more information or to see even more entries please visit the official website here.