Now in its 7th year, the Ocean Art Underwater Photo Competition offers up an extraordinary collection of underwater imagery spanning everything from abstract art photography to amazing images of marine behavior. Let's take a look at the stunning winners.

This year's winning shot, entitled Devil Ray Ballet, captures the graceful mating behavior of spinetail devil rays. The photograph, snapped at Honda Bay in the Philippines, shows two males circling a female, in this rarely observed courtship ritual.

The massive photo competition spans 16 categories, including Macro and Supermacro images, alongside Marine Life Behavior, Reefscapes, and Underwater Art. From thousands of entries, a number of winners were selected, sharing over US$80,000 in prizes.

Founder of the competition Scott Gietler, and owner of Underwater Photography Guide, suggested marine behavior photography seemed to be one of the bigger photographic trends that emerged from the deluge of entries.

"In addition to incredible behavior photos, this year saw a lot of humpback whales and crocodiles," says Gietler. "Both must be in abundance around the world!"

Francois Baelen's remarkable humpback whale shot, entitled Gentle Giants, won first place in the Wide Angle category. Taken at Reunion Island, Saint-Gilles, this astounding composition was all captured in camera as the mother whale in the foreground rested while her calf plays with a human diver in the background.

Other impressive winning shots include a playful snap of an upside-down grey seal, an astonishingly detailed look at a sharp-eared enope squid, and a frightening image of a parrotfish trying to run the gauntlet of sharks in a feeding frenzy.

Take a look through our gallery to see more spectacular winning shots.

View gallery - 39 images