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10 Winning Underwater Photo Contest 2020

Every year the Scuba Diving magazine hosts a photography contest where talented photographers from all over the world submit their best underwater pics. This year the contest celebrates its 16 year anniversary and has received 2,636 submissions, the highest number in its history.

Out of all the submissions, the jury has selected 13 winning images and 15 honorable mentions in four different categories: Behavior, Macro, Wide-Angle, and Compact Camera. The Grand Prize, a trip aboard the Roatan Aggressor, went to photographer Evans Baudin for his breathtaking (and a little terrifying) photo of a 12-plus-meter long whale shark with a mouthful of remoras taken in Baja California, Mexico. See his photo and the runner-ups in the gallery below!

More info: Scuba Diving

#1 Grand Prize Winner – Evans Baudin, Baja California, Mexico

“In June 2020, with a special permit, I went on an expedition to document marine life and the effects of reduced marine traffic due to COVID-19. After two hours in the water with a school of silky sharks near the surface, our boat captain yelled, “Whale shark, right behind you!”—a 12-plus-meter female. The surprise was twofold when I discovered about 50 remoras peacefully enjoying a free ride in her mouth!”

#2 Honorable Mention – Marc Henauer, Amorgos Island, Greece

“This image was taken in Greece, on Amorgos Island. There are many caves like this along the coast. The darkness contrasts with the typical blue of the Aegean Sea. Greece is also a paradise for freediving. The settings offer total freedom to the imagination and to the creation of poetic images.”

#3 Second Place In Compact Camera – Marcelo Johan Ogata, Lembeh Strait, Indonesia

“Have you ever had the feeling that a fish could be laughing at you? The funniest thing about this dive was that it took me ages to realize there was a porcupinefish inside the barrel sponge! I had my eyes glued on the sponge, looking for hairy squat lobsters, and only after a while did I see this camouflaged guy moving away from my camera with a smile on his face!”

#4 Third Place In Behavior – Thomas Van Puymbroeck, Marsa Alam, Egypt

“This shot was taken in very shallow water. While on honeymoon, we couldn’t resist the call of the water, so my wife and I went snorkeling every morning. One day, a lot of silt caught my attention. In the silt, this beautiful stingray appeared. I only had a very short window to shoot, because the silt was spreading everywhere. The stingray was feeding on tiny critters in the sand. After a few seconds, the ray disappeared and we continued to enjoy the beautiful Red Sea and our honeymoon.”

#5 Honorable Mention – Martina Andres, Red Sea

“As a diver, you will never forget your first big shark. I felt eternally grateful to encounter this beautiful oceanic whitetip shark in the Red Sea. As we neared the very last minutes of our dive, she and her “entourage” slowly circled our group, peacefully looking at every single one of us, before they took off into the blue again.”

#6 Second Place In Wide-Angle – Marc Henauer, Amorgos Island, Greece

“The Olympia shipwreck can be seen in the 1988 Luc Besson movie The Big Blue. It ran aground near shore on Amorgos Island in Greece. The secret of this image lies in the synchronization. To succeed, it took a ray of sunlight to illuminate the underwater landscape, then a wave arrived with the right angle on the dome to have a good view above and below, and finally, the freediver had to hold position facing the wreck. It took a lot of rehearsal.”

#7 Third Place In Wide-Angle – Raffaele Livornese, Baja California, Mexico

“I took this picture last October in Baja California. It was my first time there, so it took a few days to get more confidence with the sea and the animals that live there. I was very lucky because at that time a lot of sardines were schooling there, so the sea lions were constantly playing and hunting them. To take this picture I was hovering at a shallow depth for a long time, looking for the right moment to push the button. When it arrived, I saw the two sea lions swimming first away, then toward each other. The sardines moved in the same way to escape the hunt, so they drew two lines like parallel waves, and I got it.”

#8 Honorable Mention – Sean Steiniger, Ha‘Apai Island Chain, Tonga

“A humpback whale calf sails through the emerald-blue waters of Tonga, closely accompanied by its colossal mother and escort. As the leviathans circle directly beneath me, the calf ascends toward the surface for fresh air. I tuck back my freediving fins and snap the shot. A split second later, momma surfaces to usher her baby away from the bubble-blowing stranger.”

#9 First Place In Behavior – Jules Casey, Port Phillip Bay, Australia

“Captured during a daytime dive at Blairgowrie Pier in Port Phillip Bay, Australia, this shorthead seahorse was feeding near the surface and freely swimming from one floating piece of weed to the next. I’m not sure if the seahorse mistakenly grabbed hold of the pipefish with its tail, confusing it for a piece of weed, or if this was deliberate. The pipefish immediately struggled to break free from the seahorse’s grip. This interaction lasted only about 10 seconds, which was just enough time to set up the shot.”

#10 Second Place In Behavior – Jerry Arriaga, Ambon Bay, Indonesia

“We were diving in the brilliant muck of Ambon Bay. I was swimming under the fishing boats at Laha, one of my favorite dive sites in the area. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the lizardfish suddenly dart off its rock perch. It was really fast, like a torpedo! I quickly swam closer to find the lizardfish with a damselfish in its mouth. I managed to capture this image just before the lizardfish swam off with its tasty meal.”

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