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As many as 14 images from a collection of over 700 spectacular underwater pictures were selected during the 2012 Amateur Photography Contest in Miami.

Organised by the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the contest is held every year to promote amateur photographers who get no more than 20 per cent of their income from photography.

Since its inception in 2005, the contest has drawn entrants from across the globe submitting more than 400 images per year.

All the photographs submitted by the entrants are judged in five separate categories; Fish or marine animal portrait, macro, wide angle, student, and best overall.

A new addition to the contest is an online "Fan Favourite" poll on the Rosenstiel School blog which garnered more than 1,200 votes. The winner, taking nearly half the votes, was a jellyfish shot by Todd Aki.

"The quality of photos keeps getting better each year," Myron Wang, who has been judging the contest since its inception, said in a statement. "Judging becomes more difficult when you have so many wonderful pictures to choose from. For me, there were excellent entries in every category but this year's standout was the great picture of the juvenile sperm whale taken by Douglas Kahle in Dominica - it is spectacular!"

A panel of experts, including photographer and UM lecturer Myron Wang, underwater photographer Nicole Wang and Rosenstiel School Marine Biology & Fisheries Professor Dr Michael Schmale judged the photos which came from 20 countries.

A headshield sea slug pausing in a blade of grass in the US Virgin Islands particularly caught the attention of the judging panel.

"Everybody looked at that photo and said, Wow ... Everything is just so appealing to the eye," the National Geographic quoted judge Michael Schmale as saying. Apart from this, a swirl of lionfish, Pterois species, in the Red Sea captured by amateur photographer Mark Fuller of Israel received the first place in the wide angle category.

The complete list of winners for the 2012 contest are:

Overall Winner

Ximena Olds - US Virgin Islands

Online "Fan Favorite"

Todd Aki - California, USA


1. Todd Mintz - Bonaire

2. Davide Lopresti - Indonesia

3. Marcello Di Franceso - Indonesia

Fish or Marine Animal Portrait

1. Douglas Kahle - Dominica

2. Rockford Draper - Indonesia

3. Nicholas Samaras - Greece


1. Mark Fuller - Israel

2. Matthew Potenski - Bahamas

3. Bill Lamp'l - Fiji

UM Student

1. Kyra Hartog - Mexico

2. Phillip Gillette - Thailand

3. Austin Gallagher - Bahamas

Start the slideshow and catch a glimpse of the 14 winning photographs at the 2012 contest: