The Underwater Photographer of the Year competition concentrates on the impressive variety of photography capturing the fascinating worlds beneath the surface of the ocean, lakes or swimming pools. This year's huge selection of winning photographs present a stunning array of images, from diving amongst sperm whales to macro snaps of fish eggs.

The overall winner this year was UK-based photographer Richard Barnden with an amazing image titled The Gauntlet. To take the photo, Barnden stepped into a feeding frenzy of hundreds of grey reef sharks as they swarmed upon a school of parrotfish. The judges called the image "breath-taking," and commended Barnden for bravely placing himself amidst the action.

"At night, in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, Richard transports us right to the peak of the action as a tangle of grey reef sharks rise like a breaking wave to tear apart their prey," comments Alex Mustard, chair of the judging jury. "To take this picture, in the dark with a wide angle lens, meant that the photographer was right in the midst of the hunt, and the photo takes us right there too, letting us experience the ocean's wilder side."

The competition spans over ten broad categories covering Behavior, Macro, Black & White, and Wrecks. There is also extra focus on photography capturing local UK waters with several British-specific categories. As judge Alex Mustard notes, the breadth of the photography featured in the competition affirms how much variety there is in the world of underwater photography.

"As much as I love the category and special award winners, it is the entire collection I value most because it celebrates excellence across the different disciplines of underwater photography," says Mustard. "It is a reminder that while we are a specialist niche in the world of photography, ours is a very varied discipline."

Take a look through our gallery to see the astonishing winners and commended images from this year's strong competition.

Source: UPY2019

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