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40 Of The Most Outstanding Underwater Photography From Around The World

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About 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered with our oceans, and an estimated 97% of the world’s water is found in the ocean. However, more than 80% of the ocean has never been mapped, remains unexplored or has not even been seen by humans. Since it can be complicated to protect what is still unknown, only about 7% of the world’s oceans are designated as marine protected areas (MPAs).

The ocean is known to contain towering mountain ranges and deep canyons, known as trenches, similar to what we have on land. Though, the mysterious underwater world is very different, inhabited by fascinating marine creatures and remarkable coral reefs formation. Underwater photography can be challenging, as photographers are often required to dive deep into the sea, and they may encounter some formidable underwater predators.

Fortunately for us, there are some talented and enthusiastic photographers who capture incredible photos of this fantastic underwater world with its one-of-a-kind flora and fauna. By showcasing their work to the world, they are able to raise public awareness of the importance of protecting and conserving this diverse marine life. So, sit back and enjoy these wonderful photos – you might as well be holding your breath while scrolling. No pun intended!

1. Underwater marine life illuminated by sunbeams through the water.

Credit: David Antoja/Getty Images

2. Clown fish swimming among sea anemone in Okinawa,Kerama Island.

Credit: Motoya Kawasaki(Kawa0310)

3. A stunning cuttlefish swimming in the deep ocean.

Credit: Moodboard/Getty Images

4. A group of fish captured just below the surface of the sea in Sri Lanka’s Hikkaduwa coral reef.

Credit: Danilovi/Getty Images

5. Numerous colorful jellyfish in the dark sea.

Credit: Hakule/Getty Images

6. Brightly colored fish in Okinawa,Kerama Island.

Credit: Motoya Kawasaki(Kawa0310)

7. A coral garden in the bay of Beau Vallon, Seychelles, Indian Ocean. Look closely, can you see the small yellow fish swimming among this coral maze?

Getty Images

8. An impressive Oceanic whitetip reef shark accompanied by several pilot fish.

Credit: Stephen Frink/Getty Images

9. These soft corals emerging from the substrate at Cannibal Rock dive site in South Komodo, Indonesia, might as well be called the ‘sea broccolis’.

Getty Images

10. A sea turtle swimming away, with the rays of light above creating an even more magical scene.

Credit: Mitchell Pettigrew/Getty Images

Read Also: Top 12 Most Unusual and Creepiest Fish In The World

11. A Moon jelly (Aurelia aurita) drifting away in the sea current.

Credit: Alexander Semenov

12. A school of Jack fish swim near a boat in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

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13. Clown fish among sea anemone.

Credit: Shahaira de Cuba

14. A humpback whale guides her calf through the open water in Vavaʻu, Tonga.

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15. The beams of light shining through the water onto the aquatic plants create the illusion of an enchanting underwater world.

Credit: Cameron D. Smith/Getty Images

16. “Devil Ray Ballet”
These Spinetail devil rays (also known as japanese mobula ray) seem as if they are performing an underwater dance off Honda Bay, Palawan, Philippines.

Credit: Duncan Murrell / Ocean Art Competition 2018

17. Freediving at an underwater cave in Ciutadella de Menorca, Spain.

Credit: Victor de Valles

18. “Pacific Red Sockeye”
Sockeye Salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) photographed in British Columbia, Canada.
Wu Yung Sen (photographer): “These Pacific species of salmon will come to the west coast of Canada from the distant sea every autumn. They return to their birthplace by looking for the right salinity of the estuary, the temperature of the river, and the environment of their natal stream.”

Credit: Wu Yung Sen / Ocean Art Competition 2018

19. “Spongy Sunburst”
Mesmerizing underwater flora and fauna in Pulau Babi, Flores, Indonesia.
Renee Capozzola (photographer): “On the last day of my ‘East of Flores’ liveaboard trip, we were diving at Pulau Babi which has a beautiful reef full of soft corals and sponges. Because we were diving in the morning, the sloping wall looked up into the sun so I decided to concentrate my entire dive on ‘sunbursts.'”

Credit: Renee Capozzola / Ocean Art Competition 2018

20. “Gentle Giants”
A Humback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) and her calf shot in Saint-Gilles, Reunion Island, Indian Ocean.

Credit: François Baelen / Ocean Art Competition 2018

Read Also: The Leafy Sea Dragon, A Visually Spectacular Sea Creature With Incredible Camouflage

21. “Love From a Father”
A male Clownfish guarding his eggs in Padangbai, Bali.
Clownfish males make some very attentive dads. Here, a male clownfish is keeping a watching eye on the tiny eggs to ensure their safety until they hatch. The male usually care for their eggs by guarding them for 6 -10 days, fanning them with his fins to make them breathe, and by removing dust, debris and dead eggs from the nest.

Credit: François Baelen / Ocean Art Competition 2018

22. Underwater view of a wave breaking in Hawaii.

Credit: Mattpaul / Getty Images

23. “No No!”
Sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki) in the Galápagos Islands.
Pier Mane (Photographer): “While diving in Galapagos looking for Mola Mola, we encounter playful Sea lions. This particular one used to shake his head side-to-side, like he was saying no for a photograph.”

Credit: Pier Mane / Ocean Art Competition 2018

24. Lemon shark pups in a shark nursery in the Bahamas.
Anita Kainrath (photographer): “The Bahamas has been a shark sanctuary since 2011 but mangroves aren’t protected yet and that’s where these lemon shark pups spend the first 5–8 years of their lives. I was standing in knee-high water, trying to hold my camera still, waiting for the sharks. Trying not to move when you have mosquitoes and sand flies buzzing around you was probably the part I struggled with the most at this moment. After less than an hour the little predators came closer and finally swam around my feet and my camera, bumping against me and trying to taste my strobes.”

Credit: Anita Kainrath / Underwater Photographer of the Year 2020

25. Colorful corals off the coast of Queensland, Australia.

26. “Curiosity”
A close-up encounter with a turtle in Haleiwa, Hawaii.
Kyler Badten (photographer): “I turned to see this turtle swimming directly at me, which was a truly remarkable behavior that I have never experienced before. As I set up to capture the unique encounter, the curious turtle saw her reflection and continued to slowly approach until nearly bumping my dome!”

Credit: Kyler Badten / Ocean Art Competition 2018

27. Underwater view of a Giant clam (Tridacna gigas), Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.

Credit: Robert Harding

28. Common dolphins charging at sardines bait ball during the annual Sardine Run phenomena in Port St. Johns, South Africa.

Credit: Alexander Safonov

29. A snorkeler surrounded by a large group of California sea lions at Magdalena Bay, western coast of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur.

Credit: Joost van Uffelen

30. “Who’s the Boss?”
A Marine iguana feeding underwater, Galapagos Islands.
Andreas Schmid (photographer): “Marine iguanas can only be found on the Galapagos Islands and are the only iguana species worldwide that feeds in the ocean. I tried to understand how these very rare and special animals behave and react to the presence of divers in the water by observing them over the course of three dives, until I figured out how to approach them while they were feeding without disturbing them to get some close focus wide angle shots. The surge conditions in the shallow area these animals feed in made it quite challenging to handle the camera and position the strobes, but luckily I found this particular iguana, who was not bothered at all and allowed me to get a series of shots.”

Credit: Andreas Schmid / Ocean Art Competition 2018

Read Also: The Axolotl – An Aquatic Salamander That Seems To Have A Perpetual Smile On Its Face

31. The Pacific Double-saddle butterflyfish swim along as hungry sea birds hover above the water, searching for a meal in the Bora Bora lagoon, French Polynesia.

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32. “Family Affair”
A pod of False killer whales in Roca Partida, Revillagigedo Archipelago, Mexico.
Tiffany Poon (photographer): “A pod of false killer whales had been busy visiting dive boats at Roca Partida for a day. Twice they surrounded us on the M/V Valentina, and we could hear their distant squeaks and whistles underwater as we dove around the island. I was leading my first international dive trip on a second visit to the Revillagigedo Archipelago and loving our luck! The next morning at the end of our first dive, their commotion grew louder and louder until suddenly there they were, the whole pod making a beeline to our dive teams. We all froze in place, stunned and suddenly ignoring the oceanic manta behind us. One subgroup turned directly in front of me and let me capture their family portrait. The little ones shyly looked around, but their leader watched me closely as they passed.”

Credit: Tiffany Poon / Ocean Art Competition 2018

33. “From Beneath”
Pier Mane (photographer) : “What a panorama — hammerhead sharks are swimming above their heads. The whole dive was dedicated to capture the hills in this unique underwater environment and time the two in the same frame battling currents swimming hammerheads overhead. It was a challenging experience.”

Credit: Pier Mane / Ocean Art Competition 2018

34. “Frozen Mobile Home”
Greg Lecoeur (photographer): “Massive and mysterious habitats, icebergs are dynamic kingdoms that support marine life. As they swing and rotate slowly through polar currents, icebergs fertilize the oceans by carrying nutrients from land that spark blooms of phytoplankton, fundamental to the carbon cycle. During an expedition in the Antarctic Peninsula with filmmaker Florian Fischer and free diver Guillaume Néry, we explored and documented the hidden face of this iceberg where crabeater seals have taken up residence among icebergs that drift at the whim of polar currents.”

Credit: Greg Lecoeur / Underwater Photographer of the Year 2020

35. The view from below in the still water of the Aktun Ha cenote in Mexico. A truly enchanting scenery as the stems of the lily leaves reach up several metres from the cenote pool bottom.

Credit: Christian Vizl/Unforgettable Underwater Photography/NHM

36. A pod of sperm whale calves and juveniles huddle together near the island of Mauritius, Indian Ocean.

Getty Images

37. “Smile of a Friend” – in Jucaro, Cuba
Antonio Pastrana (photographer): “That morning we saw this crocodile called El Niño. I was told he was nice enough to let you get close to him. He was watching us for quite some time and, when we decided to go in the water, I was nervous but excited.”

Credit: Antonio Pastrana / Ocean Art Competition 2018

38. “Eclipse”
Golden Rays photographed from below in Bat Island, Costa Rica.

Credit: Edwar Herreno / Ocean Art Competition 2018

39. “Special Encounter”
Close up encounter with a Giant manta ray in Socorro, Mexico.
Alvin Cheung (photographer): “I found that another diver, Marissa, was a few meters away from me and behind her was the landmark pinnacle of El Boiler. Visibility was crystal. I thought Marissa, together with the structure of the pinnacle, might be able to create an interesting background showing both the location of the dive site and the scale of the giant manta.”

Credit: Alvin Cheung / Ocean Art Competition 2018

40. “Schools of Schools”
A female Sand tiger shark approaching a huge bait ball in Morehead City, North Carolina, United States.
Debbie Wallace (photographer) :”As I slowly and cautiously watched, I saw this large female sand tiger shark with her own bait ball entourage just approaching the massive ball. I was mesmerized by the entire scene but my brain quickly engaged enough to set up for the shot of her about to enter.”

Credit: Debbie Wallace / Ocean Art Competition 2018

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