Wild, Touching — and Even Funny: Best Underwater Photographs of 2024

Marine photographers from all over the planet submitted to a contest that will pull your heartstrings in every direction imaginable.

The Underwater Photographer of the Year contest dates back to 1965. While this year’s winners and finalists scored shots that would have been impossible to imagine back then, they also captured timeless themes and intimate moments from all over the Blue Planet’s namesake habitat.


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Sweden’s Alex Dawson won the grand prize with a haunting shot of whale skeletons surrendered to the Greenland sea by indigenous hunters.


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The UPY pointed out that “from a stable population of over 100,000 minke whales in the North Atlantic, the hunters of Tasiilaq typically take less than a dozen.”

The UPY also published a heap of photos in each of this year’s 13 categories, including “Wrecks,” “Macro,” and my personal favorite, “Behavior.”


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And don’t worry if you get a little teary over the “Save our Seas” category. There’s always an entry like “Home sweet home” or “Aquatic primate” to buoy your mood.

a monkey swimming with eyes wide open

Photo: Suliman Alatiqi


This year’s contest attracted a record number of entrants. ”The collection is a great reminder that while underwater photography is a specialist discipline, there is huge diversity within it,” said the UPY.

Check out all the winners, runners-up, and commended entries on the UPY website.

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents’ evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.