Underwater Photographer of the Year 2018 winners: Stunning sharks, shipwrecks and seahorses

Underwater Photographer of the Year overall winner and Wrecks category winner: Cycle War by Tobias Friedrich, Germany ©Tobias Friedrich/UPY2018

Cycle War was taken the Red Sea off the coast of Egypt and shows Norton 16H motorbikes loaded in Fordson WOT 3 trucks aboard the SS Thistlegorm, with soldierfish schooling above. Friedrich explains "I had had this image in mind for a few years, but it is impossible to capture in one photo, because there is not space inside the wreck to photograph this scene in a single frame. My solution was take a series of pictures and stitch them together as a panorama."

Chair of the judges, Peter Rowlands, said: "This is a quite extraordinary shot which must be viewed as large as possible. The artistic skill is to visualise such an image and the photographic talent is to achieve it."

The title of British Underwater Photographer of the Year 2018 goes to Grant Thomas from Glasgow, who now lives in New Zealand. Love Birds, his photo of swans, was taken in Loch Lomond, Scotland. Thomas explains "I have always been fascinated by over-under photography, connecting the everyday terrestrial world that we all know with the less familiar underwater secrets. The swans were searching for food beneath the surface and I just had to wait for that perfect moment of synchronicity."

Underwater Photographer of the Year is an annual competition, based in Britain, which seeks to celebrate photography beneath the surface of the ocean, lakes and even swimming pools. The competition has 11 categories, testing photographers with themes such as Macro, Wide Angle, Behaviour and Wreck photography, as well as three categories for photos taken specifically in British waters. This year's judges were experienced underwater photographers Peter Rowlands, Martin Edge and Alex Mustard.

IBTimes UK presents the winners, runners-up and third placed images in each category, along with selected commended and highly commended images.

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British Underwater Photographer of the Year winner and British Waters Wide Angle category winner: Love Birds by Grant Thomas, United Kingdom ©Grant Thomas/UPY2018
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Wide Angle category third place: Sunset Snorkel by Brook Peterson, United States ©Brook Peterson/UPY2018
Wide Angle category highly commended: The Real Illusion by Konstantin Killer, Germany ©Konstantin Killer/UPY2018
Wide Angle category commended: Blacktip Rendezvouz by Renee Capozzola, United States ©Renee Capozzola/UPY2018
Wrecks category runner-up: Safe Navigation by Gianni Pecchiar, Italy ©Gianni Pecchiar/UPY2018
Wrecks category third place: Trucks Nobia by Tobias Friedrich, Germany ©Tobias Friedrich/UPY2018
Wrecks category highly commended: Stuka by Pekka Tuuri, Finland ©Pekka Tuuri/UPY2018
Wrecks category highly commended: OCD Diver Tries To Right Shipwreck by Susannah H Snowden-Smith, Cayman Islands ©Susannah H Snowden-Smith/UPY2018
Wrecks category highly commended: Unusually Parked Car by Pekka Tuuri, Finland ©Pekka Tuuri/UPY2018
Portrait category third place: Under The Wave by Rodney Bursiel, United States ©Rodney Bursiel/UPY2018
Portrait category highly commended: Oceanic white tip shark by Greg Lecoeur, France ©Greg Lecoeur/UPY2018