Explore the depths of the sea with this jaw-dropping collection of underwater photos.
True
Earth Day

Each year, the Underwater Photographer of the Year awards are presented to artists from around the world.

Using a variety of cameras and lenses, underwater photographers capture marine marvels landlubbers are rarely exposed to.

Here are 23 of the year's best photographs, including one from the photographer of year, Davide Lopresti of Italy, who captured "Gold," the single best underwater image of the year.


1. The sea is filled with beautiful surprises. Like this jellyfish.

A large jellyfish on the eastern coast of South Africa. Photo by UPY/Pier Mane.

2. Some are big. Like this octopus.

According to the photographer, shortly after this picture was taken, the octopus attempted to grab the camera. Photo by UPY/Fabio Russo.

3. No, like really big. Like this shipwreck.

A diver explores the wreck of the USS Kittiwake in the Cayman Islands. Photo by UPY/Christian Vizl.

4. While others are small but fabulous. Like this tompot blenny.

A delightful portrait of a tompot blenny. Photo by UPY/Trevor Rees.

5. Underwater, there lives a world most of us can only begin to imagine.

A coral reef in the Raja Ampat archipelago. Photo by UPY/Damien Mauric.

6. It's a world filled with exotic creatures.

A standout image from Palau's Jellyfish Lake. Photo by UPY/Behnaz Afsahi.

7. And regular joes living their best lives — like this shark.

Photo by UPY/Pier Mane.

8. There are sunken ships...

Another photo of the USS Kittiwake wreck. Photo by UPY/Susannah H. Snowden-Smith.

9. ...and trucks that are the very definition of spooky.

The sinking of the SS Thistlegorm occurred in 1941. It's now a popular wreck for scuba divers to explore. Photo by UPY/Anders Nyberg.

10. Seriously. Google "spooky" and this is the kind of stuff you'll see.

OK, this one's probably ghost-free because this ship was sunk on purpose. True story. Photo by UPY/Rui Guerra.

11. But you'll also find the occasional boldly-colored masked butterflyfish.

See what I mean about surprises?

Photo by UPY/Spencer Burrows.

12. And for every fish with a staring problem, there are millions of species at home in the water.

A beautiful lagoon on the French Polynesian island of Mo'orea. Photo by UPY/Greg Lecoeur.

13. Some are friendly and familiar like this seal.

Photo by UPY/Sara Bowring.

14. While others patiently wait for their 15 minutes of fame. Like this starry weever.

Photo by UPY/Marc Casanovas Felix.

15. There are a few, like this brown bear, who hang out near the water mostly for the free seafood...

The photographer constructed his own cage to capture this photo of a brown bear hunting in Russia. Photo by UPY/Mikhail Korostelev.

16. ...or for the prime diving conditions, like this petrel.

An 'ua'u (Hawaiian petrel) feeding on small crustaceans. Photo by UPY/Alejandro Prieto.

17. Whether they were born in the sea like this catshark...

The silhouette of a catshark inside its egg case. Photo by UPY/Dan Bolt.

18. ...or raised there like this goby fish...

This is a photograph of a goby fish on what's known as a sea pen, an invertebrate marine creature. Photo by UPY/Ross Gudgeon.

19. ...relax there like these pilot whales...

A pod of pilot whales in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo by UPY/Greg Lecoeur.

20. ...dine there like these seagulls...

A flock of seagulls hover near Playa del Carmen in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Photo by UPY/Alejandro Prieto.

21. ...or just like to visit like these swimmers...

This photo was captured during the start of a swimming contest around the Italian island of Bergeggi. Photo by UPY/Davide Lopresti.

22. ...every species, can agree: Earth's rivers, lakes, and oceans are special and necessary and deserve our protection.

This is a shanny. And yes, it does look like it belongs in a Pixar movie. Photo by UPY/Mark Thomas.

23. Not just for our sake, but for the unexpected beauty and wonder found in the world below the ocean's surface.

This photograph, "Gold," of a spiny seahorse earned Davide Lopresti the coveted Underwater Photographer of the Year award. Seahorses like this were driven from areas of the Mediterranean due to destructive fishing practices like trawling. However, recent protections have allowed these majestic creatures to return home and Lopresti was excited to capture them in their natural habitat.

He used a long exposure to create textures akin to an oil painting, and then he used his flash to bring out details of the seahorse. Dr. Alex Mustard, marine biologist and chair of the judging panel, described "Gold" as “beautiful and creative, a very worthy overall winner."

Photo by UPY/Davide Lopresti.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less
via Spencer Cox / Twitter

In the middle of a heated election, liberal and conservative Americans are at odds over a lot of issues, but there's one thing they can agree on, they're sick of all the political acrimony.

A 2018 PBS poll found that nearly three-quarters of Americans — 74 percent — think the overall tone and level of civility in the nation's capital have gotten worse since Trump was elected.

Seventy-nine percent are "are concerned or very concerned that the negative tone of national politics will prompt violence."

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less
via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

The essential nature of the debate was whether it was acceptable for people to act violently towards someone with repugnant reviews, even if they were being peaceful. Some suggested people should confront them peacefully by engaging in a debate or at least make them feel uncomfortable being Nazi in public.

Keep Reading Show less

When Trump entered the Oval Office on his first day as president, he was greeted by a note from his predecessor. In his letter, Obama congratulated Trump on "a remarkable run," offered a few bits of sage advice, wished him well, and told him that he and Michelle "stand ready to help in any ways which we can." It was a distinguished letter from a statesman, and a beautiful example of the peaceful and supportive transfer of power that has marked every election in modern history.

Since then, Obama has largely stayed above the fray and out of the spotlight, allowing President Trump a chance to do the job without interference. Even when his friend and former vice president Joe Biden announced his run for president, Obama held back on a formal endorsement, letting the political process run its course. At the Democratic National Convention, we saw a shift, as the former president finally let the public hear his frank assessment of Trump's job performance from his experienced point-of-view.

But at a drive-in rally in Philadelphia yesterday, Obama rolled up his sleeves, took off the gloves, and gave real voice to the frustrations half of America has felt for the past four years. And phew—it was gloriously cathartic.

Keep Reading Show less