Explore the depths of the sea with this jaw-dropping collection of underwater photos.
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Earth Day

Each year, the Underwater Photographer of the Year awards are presented to artists from around the world.

Using a variety of cameras and lenses, underwater photographers capture marine marvels landlubbers are rarely exposed to.

Here are 23 of the year's best photographs, including one from the photographer of year, Davide Lopresti of Italy, who captured "Gold," the single best underwater image of the year.


1. The sea is filled with beautiful surprises. Like this jellyfish.

A large jellyfish on the eastern coast of South Africa. Photo by UPY/Pier Mane.

2. Some are big. Like this octopus.

According to the photographer, shortly after this picture was taken, the octopus attempted to grab the camera. Photo by UPY/Fabio Russo.

3. No, like really big. Like this shipwreck.

A diver explores the wreck of the USS Kittiwake in the Cayman Islands. Photo by UPY/Christian Vizl.

4. While others are small but fabulous. Like this tompot blenny.

A delightful portrait of a tompot blenny. Photo by UPY/Trevor Rees.

5. Underwater, there lives a world most of us can only begin to imagine.

A coral reef in the Raja Ampat archipelago. Photo by UPY/Damien Mauric.

6. It's a world filled with exotic creatures.

A standout image from Palau's Jellyfish Lake. Photo by UPY/Behnaz Afsahi.

7. And regular joes living their best lives — like this shark.

Photo by UPY/Pier Mane.

8. There are sunken ships...

Another photo of the USS Kittiwake wreck. Photo by UPY/Susannah H. Snowden-Smith.

9. ...and trucks that are the very definition of spooky.

The sinking of the SS Thistlegorm occurred in 1941. It's now a popular wreck for scuba divers to explore. Photo by UPY/Anders Nyberg.

10. Seriously. Google "spooky" and this is the kind of stuff you'll see.

OK, this one's probably ghost-free because this ship was sunk on purpose. True story. Photo by UPY/Rui Guerra.

11. But you'll also find the occasional boldly-colored masked butterflyfish.

See what I mean about surprises?

Photo by UPY/Spencer Burrows.

12. And for every fish with a staring problem, there are millions of species at home in the water.

A beautiful lagoon on the French Polynesian island of Mo'orea. Photo by UPY/Greg Lecoeur.

13. Some are friendly and familiar like this seal.

Photo by UPY/Sara Bowring.

14. While others patiently wait for their 15 minutes of fame. Like this starry weever.

Photo by UPY/Marc Casanovas Felix.

15. There are a few, like this brown bear, who hang out near the water mostly for the free seafood...

The photographer constructed his own cage to capture this photo of a brown bear hunting in Russia. Photo by UPY/Mikhail Korostelev.

16. ...or for the prime diving conditions, like this petrel.

An 'ua'u (Hawaiian petrel) feeding on small crustaceans. Photo by UPY/Alejandro Prieto.

17. Whether they were born in the sea like this catshark...

The silhouette of a catshark inside its egg case. Photo by UPY/Dan Bolt.

18. ...or raised there like this goby fish...

This is a photograph of a goby fish on what's known as a sea pen, an invertebrate marine creature. Photo by UPY/Ross Gudgeon.

19. ...relax there like these pilot whales...

A pod of pilot whales in the Mediterranean Sea. Photo by UPY/Greg Lecoeur.

20. ...dine there like these seagulls...

A flock of seagulls hover near Playa del Carmen in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Photo by UPY/Alejandro Prieto.

21. ...or just like to visit like these swimmers...

This photo was captured during the start of a swimming contest around the Italian island of Bergeggi. Photo by UPY/Davide Lopresti.

22. ...every species, can agree: Earth's rivers, lakes, and oceans are special and necessary and deserve our protection.

This is a shanny. And yes, it does look like it belongs in a Pixar movie. Photo by UPY/Mark Thomas.

23. Not just for our sake, but for the unexpected beauty and wonder found in the world below the ocean's surface.

This photograph, "Gold," of a spiny seahorse earned Davide Lopresti the coveted Underwater Photographer of the Year award. Seahorses like this were driven from areas of the Mediterranean due to destructive fishing practices like trawling. However, recent protections have allowed these majestic creatures to return home and Lopresti was excited to capture them in their natural habitat.

He used a long exposure to create textures akin to an oil painting, and then he used his flash to bring out details of the seahorse. Dr. Alex Mustard, marine biologist and chair of the judging panel, described "Gold" as “beautiful and creative, a very worthy overall winner."

Photo by UPY/Davide Lopresti.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."