It’s often said that we know less about the deep ocean than we do about the surface of Mars. Looking at the 2016 winners of the UK’s Underwater Photography Contest, I can’t help but agree. Life beneath the sea is as alien and entrancing as any ancient, dust-blown crater on the Red Planet.
Although only in its second year, the Underwater Photography Contest has already put itself on the map as a prestigious international competition. This year, the contest drew thousands of applicants, who vied for awards in eight photo categories, including macro, wide-angle, behavior, and more. In addition, four special awards recognized exceptional photographers, and up-and-coming talent, both in the UK and internationally.
The scope, scale, and subjects of the winning images are breathtakingly diverse. I’ve collected a few of my favorites below, but if you’re as captivated as I was, you’ll want to check out all 80 award-winning photos here.