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Dive into these 19 gorgeous, award winning photos showcasing life under the sea

Underwater life is weird and wonderful.

nature, sharks, competition, photography
©Renee Capozzola/UPY 2018.

A healthy shark population swims at sunset in Moorea, French Polynesia.

Heads up, Ariel: There's something positively mind-blowing going on under the sea.

These absolutely gorgeous photographs once made a big splash in the international Underwater Photographer of the Year competition for 2018. The annual contest showcases more than 100 of the world's best photos captured in oceans, lakes, rivers, and even swimming pools. With winners in 11 categories, including portraits, wide-angle, and wrecks, the competition brings out seasoned professionals and rising stars in this beautiful — albeit somewhat soggy — hobby.


Underwater photography greats Peter Rowlands, Martin Edge, and Alex Mustard judged more than 5,000 entries to crown the winners. Here are 19 of the best, including Tobias Friedrich's "Cycle War," the image named photograph of the year.

1. Just when you thought you'd seen every fish in the sea...

fish, underwater, award winner, nature

Two fighting anthias in Tulamben, Bali.

©Anders Nyberg/UPY 2018

2. ... something swims by and surprises you.

grouper, reefs, oceans, award winner

A juvenile grouper hides inside a pink sponge in the Jardines de la Reina reefs on the south coast of Cuba.

©Nicholas More/UPY 2018

3. Like, really surprises you.

Get a room you two!

blennies, kissing, fighting fish, exhibit

Actually, these tompot blennies aren't kissing; they're in a fierce battle in Swanage Pier, U.K.

©Henley Spires/UPY 2018.

4. It's bold and colorful down there.

wrasse fish, The United Kingdom, oceans, award winner

A male corkwing wrasse appears in Bovisand Harbor, Plymouth, U.K.

©Kirsty Andrews/UPY 2018

5. Busy and beautiful too. (Even when it's a bit intimidating.)

sand tiger sharks, docile, North Carolina, Ocean

The underbelly of a docile sand tiger shark and a large school of "bait fish" in North Carolina.

©Tanya Houppermans/UPY 2018

6. And on its best days, underwater life is a weird and wonderful combination of all of the above.

Haven't we all been stuck inside a jellyfish at one point in our lives? Hang in there, buddy.

Phillippines, Darwinism, ecosystem, environment

A juvenile trevally is wedged between the tentacles and bell of a jellyfish in Janao Bay, Philippines.

©Scott Gutsy Tuason/UPY 2018

7. The photographers were able to capture some totally delightful surprises...

crabs, Finland, rivers, nature, photography competition

A crab feeds in the Vuoksi River, Finland.

©Mika Saareila/UPY 2018

8. ...like this haunting dance of fierce predators...

bull shark, deep sea, Mozambique, geography

Bull sharks swim in the deep blue sea of Ponta Del Ouro, Mozambique.

©Sylvie Ayer/UPY 2018.

9. ...and these graceful, lithe swans that look a little more like lovebirds.

swans, Scotland, diving, eating

Swans feed in the waters of Loch Lomand, Scotland.

©Grant Thomas/UPY 2018

10. It doesn't get much more impressive than this commanding humpback whale saying hello.

humpback whale, water mammals, gigantic animals, Tonga

A humpback whale assumes the "spy hopping" posture in Vavau, Tonga.

©Greg Lecoeur/UPY 2018

11. But then you see this micro seahorse captured with a macro lens and remember that size isn't everything.

Japanese seahorse, blending, hiding, pink,

A Japanese pygmy seahorse blends in to its surroundings in Kashiwajima, Japan.

©TianHong Wang/UPY 2018.

12. There's this sweet sea lion, who could teach a masterclass on the perfect selfie.

sea lions, Australia, endangered, nature

A sea lion poses for the camera in Julien Bay, Australia.

©Greg Lecoeur/UPY 2018

13. And so could this Asiatic cormorant, who made sure to show off its good side.

underwater birds, predator, fishing, Japan

The elegant bird dives for fish in Osezaki, Japan.

©Filippo Borghi/UPY 2018

14. And we can't leave out this "otter-ly" adorable little swimmer.

Asian animals, gentle, wild, captivity

An Asian small-clawed otter swims during a training session before it's released back into the wild.

©Robert Marc Lehmann/UPY 2018

15. Though sea creatures aren't the only ones making a life down below.

wreckage, sea diving, scuba, black and white photography

The ex-USS Kittiwake sat upright in the waters of Grand Cayman for more than 250 years before surge from a hurricane knocked it over.

©Susannah H. Snowden-Smith/UPY 2018

16. Humans can't help but experience the thrills....

surfing, musician, celebrity, Fiji, ocean waves

Musician and surfer Donavon Frankenreiter enjoys the waves in Tavarua, Fiji.

©Rodney Bursiel/UPY 2018

17. ...and chills of life in the big blue sea.

This haunting image is "Cycle War," by Tobias Friedrich, winner of the Underwater Photograph of the Year.

Egypt, Red Sea, shipping, sunken ships

"Cycle War" is a haunting image and winner of the Underwater Photograph of the year, 2018.

©Tobias Friedrich/UPY 2018

The photograph captures motorcycles on a truck on the frequently photographed wreckage of the SS Thistlegorm off the coast of Egypt in the Red Sea. Of this winning entry, contest judge Peter Rowlands said, "It is of a subject which has been photographed literally thousands of times. The artistic skill is to visualize such an image and the photographic talent is to achieve it. Perfectly lit and composed, I predict that there will never be a better shot of this subject from now on."

18. But it turns out humans have left a lot of vehicles down there.

This car went through the ice of Finland's Saimaa lake, but no one was hurt.

wrong turns, cars, danger, pollution

Always remember where you parked!

©Pekka Tuuri/UPY 2018

19. But you can't really blame those people for getting a little too close to the breathtaking beauty of life underwater.

And more importantly, who would want to?

2018 winning images - Underwater Photographer of the Year

shark population, French Polynesia, travel, adventure

A healthy shark population swims at sunset in Moorea, French Polynesia.

©Renee Capozzola/UPY 2018.

This article originally appeared on 03.07.18

popular

Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

Suzy Hazelwood/Canva

Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.

Photo by Kolby Milton on Unsplash

Challenge your neighbors to a Nerf duel and see what happens.

Moving into a new neighborhood or a new building can be daunting. Getting used to a new space, meeting new people, growing accustomed to the vibe or culture of the neighborhood—it can feel like a lot, especially if people don't reach out in a welcoming way.

But as a viral video on Reddit/MadeMeSmile shows, sometimes a warm welcome could actually be a war welcome…with Nerf guns, that is.

In footage from a Ring camera on the front door of an apartment, we see a man in the hallway holding a Nerf gun. He says, "I notice you just moved in. The guy that used to live here, him and I were big into Nerf."

He then holds up the Nerf gun, saying, "I'm gonna leave it. Don't feel any pressure, but if you want to, hey." Then he laughs as he sets the gun down in front of the door.

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Joy

Gen X has hit 'that stage' of life and is not handling it very well

We are NOT prepared for Salt-n-Pepa to replace Michael McDonald in the waiting room at the doctor's office, thankyouverymuch.

Gen X is eating dinner earlier and earlier. It's happening.

The thing about Gen X being in our 40s and 50s now is that we were never supposed to get "old." Like, we're the cool, aloof grunge generation of young tech geniuses. Most of the giants that everyone uses every day—Google, Amazon, YouTube—came from Gen X. Our generation is both "Friends" and "The Office." We are, like, relevant, dammit.

And also, our backs hurt, we need reading glasses, our kids are in college and how in the name of Jennifer Aniston's skincare regimen did we get here?

It's weird to reach the stage when there's no doubt that you aren't young anymore. Not that Gen X is old—50 is the new 30, you know—but we're definitely not young. And it seems like every day there's something new that comes along to shove that fact right in our faces. When did hair start growing out of that spot? Why do I suddenly hate driving at night? Why is this restaurant so loud? Does that skin on my arm look…crepey?

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Image from YouTube video.

What is your biggest regret?

"Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh."

—Henry David Thoreau

No one escapes this world without a regret or two.

Time and time again, when we hear the final regrets of the dying, they're not about wishing they'd made money or worked more hours.

They're almost always about wishing they had the self-confidence to pursue their dreams or the time to stay in touch with loved ones.

community, culture, honesty, collaboration, art

Here are some thoughts on the subject.

Image from YouTube video.

Recently, A Plus in partnership with Strayer University's Ideal Year Initiative, put up a chalkboard on a New York City street and asked passersby to write down their biggest regrets. The people who wrote on the blackboard were from different walks of life, but their regrets were alarmingly similar.

Watch the full video below:

This article first appeared on 9.16.17

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
selective focal photo of crayons in yellow box

It's back-to-school time (yaaassss!), but that means it's also the time when you have to tackle those super-long, super-specific school supply lists (uggghhhh!).

You know what I'm talking about — the 15-plus-items-long list of things your kids need for school.

As a bonus, they're often brand-name specific. Seriously. Because Elmer's glue is apparently just that different from generic store brand glue.

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Photo by Jackie Cook/MyLondon Photography Contest.

Many locks of bright, pink hair peek around the corner of the stairwell.


A group of 105 homeless people gathered at St. Paul's Cathedral in London.

Each of them was given a disposable camera and told to take pictures that represent "my London."

The photos were entered in an annual contest run by London-based nonprofit Cafe Art, which gives homeless artists the chance to have their work displayed around the city and, for some of the photographers who participate in the yearly challenge, in a print calendar.

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