Sylvie Ayer – released

Oceanographic Magazine is heralding the conclusion of its photo/photographer of the year awards, and the results highlight the otherworldy nature of our oceans.

The winners of the various categories had to beat out thousands of entries and come from all over the Earth, from quiet estuarine seagrass meadows to the blackness of the ocean Pacific.

“The range and quality of submissions entered into this year’s competition is special. From world-class drone images of megafauna to breathtaking underwater images of deep-dwelling ocean wildlife, the full spectrum of ocean life is brought to life like never before,” Will Harrison, editorial director of Oceanographic Magazine and the Ocean Photographer of the Year, said in an email sent to CNN Thursday.

“This is an extraordinary collection of photography from an extraordinarily talented group of ocean photographers: divers, surfers, and sailors uniting to dazzle the world.”

In the category entitled Marine Conservation (Hope), Sylvie Ayer from Florida caught the above image: a manatee comes for a visit with what looks like the light of the Holy Spirit from behind.

“The manatee on the picture came close to look at me and was suddenly perfectly positioned in front of the sun’s rays,” Ayer recounts. “I hope this photo helps raise awareness of the need to protect these mammals.”

The overall contest winner was captured during a nighttime dive in the Pacific off the coast of the Philippines, where spotlights are used to attract marine life.

Jialing Cai – released

“Following the Taal Volcano eruption in the Philippines, the water column filled with particles from the stirred-up sediments,” remembers contest winner Jialing Cai. “Navigating through the low visibility and dense fog during a blackwater dive, I found this female paper nautilus. When I pressed the shutter, the particles reflected my light.”

Second place was taken by a diver investigating a large anemone for other inhabitants. Winner Andrei Savin says that anemones are a lot like apartment complexes where other animals live a symbiotic life among their tentacles.

Andrei Savin – released

This crab happened to emerge right as Savin had the anemone in focus, and it sat in the middle looking right into the viewfinder.

CNN also featured some of the results, like two octopuses in an interlocking hug, or a marlin turning about-face to look back at the bait ball it just plunged through.

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