Tadpoles ‘flying overhead’ unlikely winner of underwater photo contest

“Tadpoles”Gold in Compact Cameras; Best in ShowBert Willaert, BelgiumLocation: Lovendegem, BelgiumComment: Sort of looks like aliens flying overhead.

You wouldn’t think that an underwater photo taken with a point-and-shoot camera would produce an award-winning photograph, but a nature photographer from Belgium proved otherwise.

Bert Willaert was snorkeling in a small canal in Lovendegem, Belgium, and encountered a huge school of tadpoles of the common toad. Using his compact camera, Willaert took a photograph from a unique angle.

“From below it looks like they are flying overhead,” he wrote in a blog post about the photo.

The distinctive photo not only won the gold for compact cameras, but was Best of Show for the entire 2014 DEEP Indonesia International Underwater Photo Competition, the results of which were released in the past week.

It is the first time in the history of the eight-year series that a compact-camera winner has won Best of Show, “so it’s pretty unusual,” said Matt Weiss, owner of DivePhotoGuide.com, which hosted the contest with Wetpixel and DEEP Indonesia.

More than 5,000 photos were entered from more than 30 countries, with photographers from 18 countries winning more than $40,000 in prizes.

Here’s a variety of the winning photos, courtesy of 2014 DEEP Indonesia International Underwater Photo Competition:

“Red Sea at Sunset”Bronze in ReefscapesTheresa Guise, IndianaLocation: Red SeaComment: The Red Sea, located between Africa and Asia, is known for its spectacular recreational diving sites, and its sunsets, too, apparently.


“Into Space”Bronze in Compact CamerasChia Chi Chang, TaiwanLocation: Northeast Coast, TaiwanComment: In case you’re wondering that’s a colorful emperor shrimp on a colorful nudibranch.


Life Cascade
“Diver with Jacks at Cabo Pulmo”Silver in DiversChristian Vizl, MexicoLocation: Cabo Pulmo, Sea of Cortez, MexicoComment: Now, where exactly is this fishing spot?


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“Beneath the Sun”Gold in DiversParnupong Norasethkamol, PalauLocation: Jellyfish Lake in PalauComment: Snorkeler gets up close and personal with one of the millions of jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake.


“Touch down”Silver in Animal BehaviorMarc Montocchio, North CarolinaLocation: Baja, MexicoComment: Not only is a huge whale splashing down after breaching in the photo, but a closer look reveals a marlin, along with the sea lion.


“Freediving Serenity”Bronze in DiversJoel Penner, CaliforniaLocation: Tulum, MexicoComment: Tulum is said to have more diving diversity than anywhere else in the world.


“Monterey Reef”Gold in ReefscapesAllison Vitsky Sallmon, FloridaLocation: Monterey, CaliforniaComment: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary has been called the “Serengeti of the Sea.” It’s definitely a national undersea treasure and this is one of her jewels.


1st - 174321394207897_ORIGINAL
“The Siege”Gold in Animal BehaviorMartin Strmiska, SlovakiaLocation: Isla Mujeres, MexicoComment: A marlin is mixed in with a school of sailfish dining on a “bait ball.” Seabirds enjoy a meal, too, when the billfish force the bait to the surface.


1st -156341390991719_ORIGINAL
“Los Gigantes”Gold in Animal PortraitAcevedo Eduardo, SpainLocation: Tenerife, SpainComment: Tenerife is said to be one of the top three whale and dolphin watching destinations in the world. Might not want to get this close to them, however.

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