The best underwater photos of the year reveal shipwrecks, sharks, and terrifying deep-sea creatures

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Amid the depressing news about warming oceans and impending extinctions, images of vulnerable and amazing species can serve as a reminder of what environmental activists are fighting to save.

The photo contest is a long-running and prestigious online photo competition that showcases the colorful denizens of the oceans.

Here are our 26 favorite images from the contest's pool of winners and runner-ups this year.

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For most of us, it's extremely difficult to observe ocean animals in their natural habitats - let alone capture pictures to show our friends later. But that's not the case for these award-winning recently announced the winners of its annual photo contest for the 2018-2019 year. The contest is one of the longest-running and most prestigious online photo competitions - every year, hundreds of photographers from around the world submit thousands of photographs in a range of categories, from "Close-ups" to "Wrecks." Images are judged by a group that includes industry professionals, previous competition winners, and moderators. This year, photographers submitted 4,121 entries. Only a few dozen walked away with medals in each category.Read More:On Earth Day, stunning photos reveal the fragility and resilience of the planet and its animals We've republished some of the winning photographs here in select categories. Take a look.
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