This year’s Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition managed to produce some amazing underwater photos that showcase the perseverance of underwater artistry amidst the adversity of the times.

Two winning photos told particularly compelling stories. The Best of Show by Gaetano Dario Gargiulo is a once-in-a-life-time moment where a curious octopus took a selfie of itself with the photographer’s family.

“On the day of the photo, I remained in the tide pool as the tide was too low to venture outside of its boundaries. In one of the shallowest parts of the pool I noticed an octopus. I placed my camera near its den and the octopus started interacting with it. It came completely out of the den and to our amazement it started shooting pictures! My son (3 y.o. in the background) was very curious about the octopus.” Gaetano Dario Gargiulo

Another notable photo is the winning image of the conservation category by Christophe Chellapermal which reflects on the need to preserve our environment as well as take care of ourselves.

This picture was taken in Antibes on the French Riviera in the summer of 2020.  Every week, activist Laurent Lombard with the NGO ‘Operation Mer Propre’ organizes meetings with local environmentalists in an effort to clean up the coast. Many people don’t realize that the Mediterranean is tragically one of the most polluted seas, where plastic waste drifting and breaking down into micro plastic has sadly become the norm.

“Quarantine” by Wen Chou Wu

This amazing photo shows a nudibranch inside a crystal bubble algae. Here it lives, eats and hides. The nudi is only 5 mm long. The photographer, Wen Chou Wu said “Many people have experienced this kind of quarantine life this year, and I think this photo is suitable for this difficult time.” The judges – who included renowned underwater photographers Tony Wu, Mark Strickland and Marty Snyderman – loved it and awarded the photo first place in the nudibranch category.

by Jenny Stock, taken in Gardens of the Queen National Park, Cuba

Organised by the Underwater Photography Guide, photographers from over 80 countries entered the competition.

This delightful photo of five baby seahorses was taken by PT Hirschfield beneath Blairgowrie Pier, Melbourne, Australia. It won first place in the Compact Macro category using a Canon G12 camera, Recsea housing and Sea & Sea YS-D2J Strobe.

Over $45,000 in prizes have been awarded, including liveaboard trips in Indonesia and the Solomon Islands, dive holidays with Aquamarine Diving Bali and other companies around the world, gift certificates from Bluewater photo and Bluewater travel, and camera equipment from Sea & Sea and Ikelite.

Chia Chi Chang’s shot of coral spawning in Taiwan won first place in the Compact Behavior category. He commented ” I was very blessed to witness the coral spawning in Northern Taiwan, and it took me three consecutive days of diving to get this shot. The underwater environment in Northern Taiwan has been impacted severely due to tourism and pollution. The Coral bleaching situation was the worst this year for Taiwan and it is estimated that 31% to 40% of the coral are not going to survive. I am delighted to witness the coral spawning in my beloved ocean and seeing the next generation live on.”

Winning photos can be seen at the Underwater Photography Guide at https://www.uwphotographyguide.com/ocean-art-contest-winners-2020

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