Most of us can barely swim in a straight line when we enter the water let alone take stunning images of what we see. But the winners of the 2016 Underwater Photographer of the Year competition do exactly that. The British-based contest recently announced their winners in variety of categories. Over the course of just two days, judges evaluated over 3,500 images submitted from more than 54 countries. Here are some of the photographs that took the top prize in their respective categories.
Underwater photographer of the year
"Gold" by Davide Lopresti won the overall competition. His image received praise in multiple categories, wowing judges for its simple yet effective composition, bold use of color and elegant execution of motion blur.
British underwater photographer
"Catshark Supernova" by Dan Bolt took the top spot in this category for its stark silhouette and "outstanding simplicity."
Up & Coming
Pier Mane of South Africa took this meticulously composed photo called "Three Pillars - Practice, Patience, and Luck!" The aptly named shot probably required a great deal of patience to get just right.
Mikhail Korostelev won this category with this intense underwater shot of a bear "fishing" for salmon. The photographer says he constructed a cage to keep him safe while waiting for this wild brown bear to take a swipe at a potential meal.
The runner-up in this category, Fabio Galbiati, makes incredible use of perspective and light with this image of a sea slug chowing down on a root in a mangrove forest.
And in third place, Greg Lecoeur's shot of black-tip reef sharks milling about a lagoon in French Polynesia pops with vivid color.
Helen Brierly won second place in this category with her image of a translucent octopus. (David Lopresti's seahorse photo snagged the top spot.)