Lonely Planet Writer

Life beneath the surface beautifully captured by underwater photographers

The winners of 2015 Ocean Art Underwater Photo Contest have been revealed – along with their captivating images of what lurks under the surface around the world.

1st Place Macro Jeff Milisen  "Feeling Exposed"
Best in Show and First Place Macro – Jeff Milisen. “Feeling Exposed”
Image by Jeff Milisen

The contest is organized by the Underwater Photography Guide, which received thousands of entries from more than 50 different countries.

"The Game" Honorable Mention - Wide Angle Scott Portelli Shot in Whyalla, South Australia with Canon 5D Mark III
“The Game” Honorable Mention – Wide Angle.  Scott Portelli
Shot in Whyalla, South Australia with Canon 5D Mark III Image by Scott Portelli

More than $70,000 in prizes will be awarded to winning photographers, including dive packages in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and more.

"Nemo is in Da House". 2nd Place - Wide Angle. Matteo Visconti Shot in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea with Canon 5D Mark II
“Nemo is in Da House”. 2nd Place – Wide Angle. Matteo Visconti
Shot in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea with Canon 5D Mark II
Image by Matteo Visconti

The categories included wide-angle, macro, portrait, behavior, novice DSLR, nudibranchs, supermacro, cold water, pool and conceptual, plus 3 compact camera and 3 mirrorless camera categories.

"Mangrove Sunset" 2nd Place - Mirrorless Wide-Angle. Fabio Galbiati Shot at Bangka Island, Indonesia with Olympus OM-D E-M5
“Mangrove Sunset” 2nd Place – Mirrorless Wide-Angle. Fabio Galbiati
Shot at Bangka Island, Indonesia with Olympus OM-D E-M5 Image by Fabio Galbiati

The top photo (featured first in this story) won Best of Show and was shot by Jeff Milisen in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. It captures a larval stage eel, photographed at night in 4,000 feet of water.

"Bright Smile" 4th Place - Portrait Claudio Contreras Koob Shot in Jardines de la Reina, Cuba with Canon 5D Mark II
“Bright Smile”4th Place – Portrait Claudio Contreras Koob
Shot in Jardines de la Reina, Cuba with Canon 5D Mark II Image by Claudio Contreras Koob

According to judge Scott Gietler, “this eel has possibly never been photographed before, or even seen underwater by a diver. Jeff and myself are not aware of anyone who has”.

"Imp of Darkness" Honorable Mention - Compact Wide-Angle. Sarah Stein Greenberg Shot at Fernandina Island, Galapagos Islands with Canon G16
“Imp of Darkness” Honorable Mention – Compact Wide-Angle. Sarah Stein Greenberg
Shot at Fernandina Island, Galapagos Islands with Canon G16 Image by Sarah Stein Greenberg

Milisen wrote of the photo:  “I was on a blackwater dive with a member of the Roddenberry family (of Star Trek fame) watching a parade of underwater aliens drift past when this larval cusk eel swam by.  The external stomach helps the developing fish grow as fast as possible by eeking every last bit of nutrition from its every meal.  Out of the four divers underwater that day, we had over 1000 blackwater dives under our belt and none of us had ever seen anything like it, whether on earth or boldly going elsewhere!”

"Friends" 3rd Place - Annika Persson Shot at Farnes Island, United Kingdom with Nikon D300
“Friends”3rd Place – Annika Persson
Shot at Farnes Island, United Kingdom with Nikon D300 Image by Annika Persson

The winning images were captured in both salt and fresh water around the world, in Australia, Cuba, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii and more amazing locations.

"Alien Space Ship" 5th Place -Macro  Dennis Corpuz Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Nikon D7000
“Alien Space Ship” 5th Place -Macro Dennis Corpuz
Shot in Anilao, Philippines with Nikon D7000 Image by Dennis Corpuz

Many of the photos are also accompanied by information from the photographer, explaining where the image was captured and what it features.

"Egyptian Sunset Split" Honorable Mention - Mirrorless Wide-Angle.  Daniel Copeland Shot in the Ras Mohammed National Park, Egyptian Red Sea with Panasonic GH4
“Egyptian Sunset Split” Honorable Mention – Mirrorless Wide-Angle. Daniel Copeland
Shot in the Ras Mohammed National Park, Egyptian Red Sea with Panasonic GH4 Image by Daniel Copeland

See more winners here.