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Underwater Photography Contest 2017

 Organizers from the Underwater Photographer of the Year Contest have recently announced their winning photos for 2017. The winner, Gabriel Barathieu, beat entrants from 67 countries around the world with his stunning photograph of an octopus in the lagoon of the island of Mayotte. Prizes and commendations were also awarded for a number of categories, including Macro, Wide Angle, Wrecks, Up & coming, Behavior, Compact, and in British Waters. Below are 12 of our favorites.
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1. Underwater Photographer of the Year, 2017 - Dancing Octopus
Photo: Gabriel Barathieu
This photo was shot in the lagoon of Mayotte, during a low tide in spring, on May 7, 2016. The photographer had to get as close to the animal as possible to create this effect. He was using a 14mm ultra wide angle lens with extremely good close focus which is what gives this effect of great size.
2. Commended, Macro - Larval Lionfish
Photo: Steven Kovacs 
This image was shot during a black water drift dive in Palm Beach, Florida. The photographer was looking for alien looking pelagic animals, plankton, and the larval stages of creatures that drift out to the ocean during their early stages of development. Many of the animals seen during these type of dives are very small and disappear quickly when illuminated by dive lights, so it can be challenging to get a beautiful photograph such as this.
3. Winner, Macro - Prey?
Photo: So Yat Wai 
This photograph was taking during a black water dive in Anilao, Philippines. Even though the larvae mantis shrimp, which can be seen on the left, is very small, it is still a predator which uses it raptorial appendages to hunt prey. Has it just spotted its dinner and is about to pounce?​
4. Commended, Portrait - Green Turtles in the Rays
Photo: Greg Lecoeur
During a diving trip in Tenerife, the photographer was lucky enough to come across these green turtles. This image was taken early morning, just as the sunbeams pierced the surface. The photographer adjusted the settings on his camera and waited until the turtles came close enough to trigger his camera.
5. Third Place, Behavior - Cleaner
Photo: Liang Fu
The photographer found this cleaner stations at 26 meters deep. On the first dive down, he took a few front-facing photos with the cleaner shrimps in the moray eel's mouth. However, when he was surfacing, he liked the idea of taking a photo from the side, with the eel's mouth wide open and the cleaner shrimp inside.  So on his second dive, he hoped, and he got what he was looking for.
6. Winner, Wrecks - The Wreck of the Louilla at Sunset
Photo: Csaba Tökölyi
This is the wreck of Louilla resting on top of Gordon reef in the Straits of Tiran on the edge of the Sinai. Beneath her you can see her anchor chains, in the shape of a whale. Wrecks become part of the ecosystem in next to no time, as soft corals develop quickly and become shelters for schools of juvenile fish. However, they can also have a devastating effect on their surroundings. This wreck sits on top of Gordon Reef, and is slowly deteriorating due to waves and weathering.
7. Highly commended, Portrait - Imp of Darkness
Photos: Damien Mauric
​On his visit to the Galapagos Islands, Darwin was disgusted by the iguanas' appearance, writing: "The black lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large, disgusting clumsy lizards. They are as black as the porous rocks over which the crawl and seek their prey from the sea. I call them 'imps of darkness'. They assuredly well-become the land they inhabit." The photographer, on a trip to these islands, was fortunate enough to share a moment with this now endangered species.
8. British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2017 - Out of the Blue Kukulkan Cenote
Photo: Nick Blake 
This photo was taken in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The photographer left his strobe behind for the natural light shot he wanted and positioned himself in the shadows of the cavern. Moving his eye around the viewfinder, he could see that the rock outline of the cavern made for pleasing symmetry, and he adjusted his position to balance the frame. The light show flickered on and off as the sun was periodically covered by cloud, and as it reappeared he asked his dive buddy to enter the shot, completing the composition.
9. Commended, Behavior - Toads Mating
Photo: Luc Rooman 
The photographer had been following toads mating in the fresh water lake of Turnhout (Belgium) - usually in the months of April and March when the weather conditions are humid. The toads in this image are in the shallow areas of the lake where the photographer could take photos using the natural light and a snorkel.
10. Winner, Wide angle - One in a Million
Photos: Ron Watkins
Last summer the photographer headed to Alaska in order to photograph salmon sharks. They were cruising for hours looking for dorsal fins, and that is when they came across an enormous moon jellyfish bloom that covered hundred of meters. The dense bloom of jellyfish ranged in depth from 2-20 meters and the photographer spent a lot of time in the water with them. He came across this Lion's Mane Jellyfish rising from the bloom towards the surface, so he positioned himself directly over it to capture this image.
11. Highly Commended, Macro - Back Light Shrimp
Photo:  Fábio Freitas
Shrimps are difficult subjects to photograph; you have to portray their beautiful colors and shape, while focusing on their eyes. In the late afternoon, this photographer was diving in his favorite dive site in Bonaire, when he came across this shrimp underneath a rock in a perfect position to make a backlighting technique, using continuous lighting.
12. Highly Commended, Up and Coming - Medusa Blenny on the Lookout
Photo: Jade Hoksbergen
​This photographer's fascination with blennies started in early 2016 when she was living in Saint Lucia and she got her hands on an underwater camera for the very first time. She believes that blennies make for interesting subjects due to their range of facial expressions, sometimes akin to the grimaces one would associate with gargoyles. For this image, she wanted to illustrate the intricate detail of this blenny while showing how its texture and color helps it to blend in with its environment.


13. Highly Commended, Behavior - Dolphins Hunting
Photo: Greg Lecoeur 
Since last year, sardines have become victims of climate change and overfishing. They are the main food source of much marine life, such as sea lions, penguins, sharks, and dolphins. During their migration along the coast, all the predators work in tandem to hunt sardines, but the action has become more and more unpredictable. To capture this image, the photographer had to spend several days on the ocean. This photo was taken near Port Saint Johns, South Africa, on June 27, 2016.
14. Winner, Behavior - Your Home and My Home
Photo: Qing Lin 
Clown fish and anemones share a symbiotic relationship. The parasitic isopods like to hang out in the mouths of the fish - maybe this is why they often open their mouths. The fish in the photo were very curious, and as the photographer approached, they danced around his lens. It took the photographer six dives, patience and a lot of luck to capture the exact moment when all three fish opened their mouths to reveal their guests. This image was taken near Lembeh, Indonesia, on December 2, 2016.
Source: theatlantic
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