The Underwater Photographer of the Year contest celebrates the beauty and magnificence of our majestic oceans, lakes, and rivers. The competition has captivated audiences since 1965, and this year was no exception.
This year, the competition received more than 6,000 entries from 72 different countries. An astounding photo by U.S. photographer Kat Zhou of a river dolphin striking the perfect pose at dusk has won the 2023 Underwater Photographer of the Year competition. Other award-winning images include a shot of sting rays gliding over the sandy ocean floor, a whale shark feeding on a school of fish, an intact WWII airplane, and an elephant's curious trunk underwater.
Here are some of our favorite entries from this year's competition, while all 130 shortlisted images are available on the competition's website.
Related: 15 Pics That Showcase the Beauty of the Underwater Realm
“Boto Encantado” by Kat Zhou (USA). Underwater Photographer of the Year 2023. Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2023.
Location: Brazilian Amazon
A pink river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis) breaches the surface of the Amazon river at sunset. The species is critically endangered, with numbers declining year after year.
“The Trunk” by Suliman Alatiqi (Kuwait). Winner, Portrait.
Location: Phuket, Thailand
A curious elephant checks out the photographer's camera, giving him the opportunity to get a close-up shot of the animal's trunk.
“Fade” by J. Gregory Sherman (USA). Winner, Wide Angle
Location: Stingray City, Cayman Islands
A line of southern stingrays (Hypanus americanus) glides across the sand at Stingray City on Grand Cayman.
“Engine with a Saddle” by Brett Eldridge (USA). Winner, Wrecks
Location: Point Loma, California
This is the wreck of an F8F-1 Bearcat, a rare single-engine carrier-based fighter plane introduced in the late 1940s.
“Hopeless” by Alvaro Herrero (Spain). Save Our Seas Foundation Marine Conservation Photographer of the Year 2023. Winner, Marine Conservation.
Location: Baja California, Mexico
A humpback whale's (Megaptera novaeangliae) tail becomes completely entangled in ropes and buoys, rendering it completely inoperable.
“El Blanco – The White One” by Don Silcock (Australia). Winner, Black & White.
Location: Península Valdés, Argentina
The calf of a Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) is at ease with itself as its mother watches closely behind.
Make Love Not War” by Yury Ivanov (Indonesia). Winner, Behavior.
Location: Tulamben, Bali
A couple of mating coconut octopuses (Amphioctopus marginatus).
“Klunzinger's Wrasse In Motion” by Enrico Somogyi (Germany). Winner, Compact.
Location: Marsa Alam, Egypt
The Klunzinger's wrasse (Thalassoma rueppellii), also known as Rüppell's wrasse, is a beautiful wrasse from the Red Sea. The photographer got lucky to get a close-up shot of one while snorkeling in Marsa Alam in Egypt.
“Jaws Reborn” by Victor Huertas (Australia). Runner Up, Black and White.
Location: Mo'orea, French Polynesia
A spectacular image of a newborn blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus).
“Curiosity Among Icebergs” by Rafael Fernandez Caballero (Spain). Runner Up, Portrait.
Location: Antarctic Peninsula
When she saw the camera, this large female leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx) became really curious.
“Egg Eaters” by Kirsty Andrews (UK). Winner, British Waters Macro.
Location: Shetland, Scotland
Three large nudibranchs feed on a big coil of eggs in Shetland, Scotland. Also called sea slugs, they are an order of marine gastropods consisting of more than 3,000 species.
“An Island's Wild Seas” by Theo Vickers (UK). Most Promising British Underwater Photographer 2023. Winner, British Waters Wide Angle.
Location: Needles Marine Conservation Zone, Isle of Wight
The sun beats down through an expanse of Himanthalia algae on the chalk reefs of the Needles Marine Conservation Zone.
“Pipe Reef” by Dan Bolt (UK). Winner, British Waters Living Together.
Location: Loch Fyne, Western Scotland
This shallow artificial reef is home to many different species, including some large Langoustines (Nephrops norvegicus) in Loch Fyne, Scotland.
“Unsung” by Shane Gross (Canada). Winner, Macro
Location: Vancouver Island, Canada
A close-up photograph of a plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus) nest. These unusual species are deep-water fish that travel to the intertidal zone to spawn.
“Crack Rock Blenny” by Tony Reed (UK). Winner, British Waters Compact.
Location: Babbacombe, England
A shot of the Variable Blenny (Petroscirtes variabilis). Before approaching the camera, the fish had been caring for its eggs inside the crevice.
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