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Colonial rotifers showing eyespots and corona, magnification 200x to 500x

The winners of Olympus' annual live sciences photography competition are in, with the top 10 submissions revealing an entire world of microscopic wonder.

It's the 10th year of Olympus' BioScapes international digital-imaging competition — where photographers from around the globe can send in their photos and videos of a world that usually goes unseen by human eyes. Captured via light microscope, the images are of live science specimens studied in laboratories — and entrants can use any magnification, lighting and brand of equipment.

Hidenao Tsuchiya, Olympus America's vice president and general manager for the Scientific Equipment Group, said of the competition:

Microscope images forge an extraordinary bond between science and art. We founded this competition to focus on the fascinating stories coming out of today's life science research laboratories. The thousands of images that people have shared with the competition over the years reflect some of the most exciting work going on in research today — work that can help shed light on the living universe and ultimately save lives. We look at BioScapes and these beautiful images as sources of education and inspiration to us and the world.

This year's winner was Ralph Grimm, a teacher from Jimboomba, Queensland, a small town about 45 kilometres south of Brisbane. Grimm's work in microbial imaging has won multiple awards and accolades in the past, including honourable mentions and "image of distinction" awards in this year's Nikon Small World competition. His winning BioScapes entry is a 58-second video — the first video to win the competition — capturing the rapid movements of pond-dwelling colonial rotifers' cilia, with their red eyes clearly visible.

We've collected the top 10 winners here for your viewing pleasure (in order of placement), but you can check out the full gallery on the official site, which includes an extensive and beautiful collection of honourable mentions.

If you want to enter the 2013 competition, visit the BioScapes website for the terms and conditions.

Ralph Grimm
Jimboomba, Queensland, Australia

Captured using differential interference contrast microscopy.

Caption:Photo:Michelle Starr/CNET Australia
of 10

Red algae Scagelia, showing reproductive tetraspores and golden diatoms

Dr Arlene Wechezak
Anacortes, Washington, US

Captured using dark field microscopy.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Dr Arlene Wechezak
of 10

East-coast US fern, Polypodium virginianum, showing a cluster of spore-filled sporangia and specialised protective hairs called paraphyses

Dr Igor Siwanowicz
HHMI Janelia Farm Research Campus, Ashburn, Virginia, US

Captured using confocal microscopy.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Dr Igor Siwanowicz
of 10

Claw of crustacean amphipode Phronima sp (pram bug — deep sea plankton), showing muscles and rows of pigment cells

Dr Christian Sardet and Sharif Mirshak
The Plankton Chronicles Project, Villefranche-sur-Mer, France, and Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Captured using dark field microscopy.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Christian Sardet and Sharif Mirshak
of 10

Unicellular green alga Micrasterias from lake sample

Rogelio Moreno Gill
Biomarcell Station Zoologique, Panama City, Panama

Captured using differential interference contrast microscopy, comprising 22 stacked images.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Rogelio Moreno Gill
of 10

Live mushroom coral Fungia sp — close-up of mouth during expansion

James Nicholson
NOAA/NOS/NCCOS Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research, Fort Johnson Marine Lab, Charleston, South Carolina, US

Captured using autofluorescence.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Nicholson
of 10

Beta-tubulin expression of a Drosophila third instar larval brain, with attached eye imaginal discs

Dr Christian Klämbt and Dr Imke Schmidt
University of Münster, Münster, Germany

Captured using confocal microscopy.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Dr Christian Klämbt and Dr Imke Schmidt
of 10

Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule) stamens anthers and filaments

Edwin Lee
Carrollton, Texas, US

Captured using phase contrast microscopy.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Edwin Lee
of 10

Delphinium seed

Sahar Khodaverdi
University of Tabriz, Tabriz, East Azerbaijan, Iran

Captured using epifluorescence, comprising multiple stacked images.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sahar Khodaverdi
of 10

Butterfly "Prola Beauty" (Panacea prola) wing scales, 200x

Charles Krebs
Issaquah, Washington, US

Captured using diffuse reflection illumination.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Charles Krebs
of 10