They’ve donned scuba masks and snorkels, armed themselves with specialized cameras and staved off a fear of the unknown to capture some of the most breathtaking images of the world below. The winners of the 2013 Annual Underwater Photography Contest offer a pinhole view into a part of the earth that most never see, from the egg-filled mouth of a dusky jawfish to a blue-ringed octopus whose fashionable pattern could give Vera Bradley a run for the money.
Kyle McBurnie’s shot of a lonely harbor seal ambling in a kelp forest near San Diego took top honors out of a pool of more than 650 submissions from 23 countries. Italian Pietro Cremone’s photo of a pair of Mandarin dragonets canoodling in the Philippines, meanwhile, was the fan favorite.
The University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science hosts the annual competition, and the panel of experts this year included photographer Myron Wang, underwater photographer Nicole Wang and UM marine biology professor Jiangang Luo. In addition to the overall winner, the judges also allocated awards across three categories: Macro, Fish or Marine Animal Portrait and Wide Angle.
Scroll down to view the winning shots.
BEST OVERALL: A harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) is seen in a kelp forest at Cortes bank, near San Diego, Calif. Kyle McBurnie of California
FAN FAVORITE: Mating Mandarin dragonets (Synchiropus splendidus) are photographed in Puerto Galera, Philippines. Pietro Cremone of Italy
1ST PLACE MACRO: An anemone shrimp is seen in Puerto Galera, Philippines. Beth Watson of Missouri
2ND PLACE MACRO: An emperor shrimp (Periclimenes imperator) on two nudibranches (Risbecia tryoni) is seen at Dinah's Beach, Papua New Guinea. Douglas Good of Pennsylvania
3RD PLACE MACRO: A porcelain crab (Neopetrolisthes maculatus) is seen on an anemone at Pescador Island, Cebu, Philippines. Frederica Bambi of Italy
1ST PLACE WIDE ANGLE: A lionfish is pictured on the Thistlegorm wreck in the Red Sea, Egypt. Alex Tattersall of the United Kingdom
2ND PLACE WIDE ANGLE: Spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) are pictured in a small inlet off the Kona coast, Hawaii. Joseph Tepper of New York
3RD PLACE WIDE ANGLE: Raccoon butterfly fish and angelfish are seen on a reef in the Red Sea, near Sharm el Sheik, Egypt. Pietro Cremone of Italy
1ST PLACE Portrait: A juvenile lionfish is pictured during a night dive in Roatan, Honduras. Steven Kovacs of Florida
2ND PLACE PORTRAIT: The greater blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata) is seen near Malapascua island, Philippines. Marcello Di Francesco of Italy
3RD PLACE PORTRAIT: A male dusky jawfish with his clutch of eggs is seen at the Blue Heron Bridge in Riviera Beach, Fla. Judy Townsend of Florida
1ST STUDENT: Goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) is pictured during the annual spawning event in Jupiter, Fla. Laura Rock of Florida
2ND STUDENT: Great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran) is seen in Bimini, Bahamas. Laura Rock of Florida
3RD STUDENT: Oceanic white tip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) is seen near Cat Island, Bahamas. Austin Gallagher of Florida