20 Breathtaking Underwater Photos

NatGeo photographer David Doubilet has dedicated his life to documenting magnificent underwater environments. He is a firm believer that pictures have the power to celebrate, educate, honor, humiliate, and illuminate. As time goes by, the photographer has realized that his job has inspired two generations of underwater photographers. He hopes to continue doing that and, most importantly, he wants to give a voice to the voiceless and make pictures that make people “care about, fall in love with, and protect the sea.” (#1, #6, and #13 are some of our favorites!)

#20. Sea Lions

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

Let’s start by taking a look at these beautiful sea lions playing in a bed of sea grass near Hopkins Islands in Spencer Gulf, South Australia. This lovely looking species is found only in Australia and is one of the most endangered pinnipeds the world.

#19. Sea Dragons

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

This weedy sea dragon gliding through a kelp forest in Tasmania’s temperate waters looks like a character from a Disney movie, doesn’t it?  These mystical-looking, flamboyant creatures feed on clouds of mysid shrimps. Habitat degradation, pollution, and collection for the aquarium trade have made their conservation status to be near threatened.

#18. Stingrays

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

Doesn’t this stingray look like it’s sailing, just like the sailboat? North Sound, Grand Cayman has become one of the world’s most popular snorkel sites. There, tourists are greeted by stingrays. With pictures like this one, Doubilet hopes to show how connected we are to our blue planet.

#17. American Crocodiles

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

Look at this American crocodile patrolling mangrove channels of Gardens of the Queen National Park, Cuba, at night. This is definitely something we wouldn’t want to run into when we’re enjoying a midnight swim, is it? These reptiles create and maintain channels that enhance circulation of water and nutrients, and that’s why they are called the engineers of the mangroves.

#16. Botswana

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

A Bayei fisherman in a mokoro, photographed by the midday sun,on the waters of the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Don’t you think this picture could work as a perfect movie poster? We’re thinking the plot already!

#15. Tasmania

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

The SS Nord surely looks like a spaceship which has just landed, but it’s only an 82-meter case oil tanker, that sunk in 1915. The wreck sits upright near Tasman Island, Tasmania.

#14. Underwater Caves

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

This picture could easily be mistaken as a scene from a horror movie, however, it’s only a diver who is cave diving. Through this activity, explorers get to find unique environments and historical and archaeological artifacts.

#13. Senorita Fish

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

Beautiful garibaldi and senorita fish beneath the towering kelp forests of Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary off California. Unfortunately,  due to the over-harvest of purple urchin predators in the last decade, this population of grazers has increased and devastated the once-thriving kelp community.

#12. Jellyfish in Micronesia

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

It may seem like it’s a painting, but it is not! This picure shows Marine biologist William Hamner as he rises through a dense cloud of non-stinging Mastigias jellyfish in Palau, Micronesia. Thanks to a warming climate, this population in a marine lake on Eil Malk Island is now at risk.

#11. Australia

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

Before you say anything… No, this is not a photo of the moon and some astronauts, but it sure looks like it, doesn’t it? Actually, these are four divers descending into Ewens Pond, on the South of Mount Gambier, Australia.

#10. Papua New Guinea

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

A hawksbill sea turtle and schools of batfish and barracuda swim peacefully in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Philippines form an area called the Coral Triangle, a region of the Pacific that is known for its rich marine biodiversity.

#9. Parrotfish

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

Proudly, this bridled parrotfish shows its near perfect teeth as it sleeps beneath a coral ledge near Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Parrotfish are reef herbivores. They feed on coral for its algae and excreting sand.

#8. Devils Eye Spring

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

This colorful photo features a swimmer gliding across Devils Eye Spring, where it mixes with the tannin-rich waters of the Santa Fe River in central Florida. Their shallow freshwater aquifers are vital to Floridians. Unfortunately?, these aquifers are threatened by over-pumping, pollution, and salt intrusion

#7. Indonesia

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

Doesn’t this Chromodoris nudibranch look like some sort of  stuffed animal? The species is found in Bali, Indonesia. They are soft-bodied marine snails named for their naked gills, that use brilliant coloration to advertise its toxicity to potential predators.  Despite of not being well known by the general public, they have important roles to play in the ocean ecosystem.

#6. Stargazer

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

What is this? A human skull? Not at all! It’s a stargazer, which resembles a Mayan mask, buried in the volcanic sands of Lembeh Strait, Indonesia. These elusive creatures are incredible ambush predators, that manage to explode from the soft sands to devour any unsuspecting prey that crosses their path.

#5. Chevron Barracudas

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

Here we see Chevron barracuda forming a nearly perfect circle around a diver in the sea near New Ireland, Papua New Guinea. Barracuda form schools during the day as a defense against predation. They break up at dusk to hunt.

#4. Japan

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

This picture may have not been taken underwater, however it is necessary to show it in order to generate awareness of what is happening with wild dolphins on Japan’s Izu Peninsula. During the annual dolphin harvest, fishermen slice the animals’ carotid arteries and let them bleed to death.

#3. Philippines

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

This male anemone fish may look like he’s about to blow a kiss, however, he is aggressively guarding his clutch of eggs in Anilao, Philippines. The males will aerate the eggs, remove detritus, and fend off predators for 7-10 days until they hatch. Pet trade and damage to coral reefs are threats these colorful fish constantly face.

#2. African Elephants

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

An African elephant submerged in the cool waters of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. See how its tusk is pushed into the sand bottom, and how the ivory gleams. Ivory has fueled a global elephant poaching crisis.

#1. German Submarine

Photo: Courtesy of David Doubilet, National Geographic

This magnificent picture of a German submarine U-352 lying on the bottom of the Atlantic off Morehead City, North Carolina is definitely worthy of the first place on our list. Sunken by depth charges deployed by the Coast Guard Cutter Icarus on May 9, 1942, the submarine remained undiscovered until 1975. This image is a composition of 33 frames, however, it looks like a  painting worthy of a museum.

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