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Christmas Gift Guide

Boxer crabs

Banded jawfish

Pygmy seahorse

Dwarf minke whale

Molly Miller blenny

Scarlet-striped cleaning shrimp

French angelfish

Caribbean reef squid

Mandarin fish

Pig in Exumas

Oceanic whitetip shark

Pumpkinseed

Sperm whale with remora

In the last few years, the consumer camera market has exploded. As technology advances and prices drop, casual photographers can increasingly get their hands on nifty features previously affordable only to professionals. One example is a growing number of cameras (and camera casings) that can go underwater and come out unscathed, which has opened up a whole new world to hobbyist photogs.

The University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science recently held its annual amateur underwater photography contest. Winners were named in three categories--wide angle, macro, and marine animal portrait. Awards were also given for the best contributions from University of Miami students.

This photo, taken in Indonesia by Marchione Giacomo, won best overall photo in the contest. It shows two boxer crabs (Lybia tesselata) ready for a fight. The crabs defend themselves by carrying tiny stinging sea anemones in their claws.

Caption by / Photo by Marchione Giacomo/University of Miami
No, this fish didn't get caught snacking. The male banded jawfish (Opistognathus macrognathus) holds brooding eggs in its mouth until they're ready to hatch. The photo was taken in Riviera Beach, Fla., by Steven Kovacs and won first place in the marine animal portrait category.
Caption by / Photo by Steven Kovacs/University of Miami
This pygmy seahorse is only about a half-inch tall and has flesh that blends masterfully well with the sea fans it lives among. Taken in Borneo, Malaysia, this photo won photographer Vickie Coker first prize in the macro category.
Caption by / Photo by Vickie Coker/University of Miami
This shot of a dwarf minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata acutorostrata) was caught just after daybreak on part of Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The photographer, Steffen Binke, was about 6 or 7 feet away from the whale when he took the picture, which took third place in the animal portrait category.
Caption by / Photo by Steffen Binke/University of Miami
Meet the Molly Miller blenny, also known as the combtooth blenny. The tiny fish is not uncommon to home aquariums, but this particular one was photographed in Lake Worth Lagoon in Florida. Photographer Judy Townsend won third place in the macro category for this shot.
Caption by / Photo by Judy Townsend/University of Miami
These scarlet-striped cleaning shrimp (Lysmata grabhami) were spotted in the Florida Keys by Evan D'Alessandro, who took second place among the University of Miami student submissions.
Caption by / Photo by Evan D'Alessandro/University of Miami
D'Alessandro also won first prize in the wide-angle category, for this photo of three French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru). He took this one off Key Largo, Fla., while working on a research project with the Rosenstiel School.
Caption by / Photo by Evan D'Alessandro/University of Miami
Jerry Kane won second place in the portrait category for this shot of a Caribbean reef squid (Sepioteuthis sepioidea) passing overhead and framed against a cloudy sky.
Caption by / Photo by Jerry Kane/University of Miami
These two mandarin fish were photographed by Michael Rosenfeld when he was just 15 years old.
Caption by / Photo by Michael Rosenfeld/University of Miami
Top honors in the student-submitted category went to Neil Hammerschlag for this photo of a piglet looking for tasty handouts from local fishermen in the Bahamas.
Caption by / Photo by Neil Hammerschlag/University of Miami
Hammerschlag also nabbed third place in the student category with this photo of an oceanic whitetip shark approaching a tiny fish off Cat Island in the Bahamas.
Caption by / Photo by Neil Hammerschlag/University of Miami
A male pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus) checks out his reflection in Alessio Viora's camera lens in Ginnie Springs, Fla.
Caption by / Photo by Alessio Viora/University of Miami
Thomas Carey caught this shot of a juvenile sperm whale coming up for air, with about a dozen remora hitching a ride along its body. The photo was taken off the coast of Kona, Hawaii, and won third prize in the wide-angle category.

Ready to pick out your own underwater shooter? CNET News reporter Stephen Shankland recently wrote about several new rugged, waterproof cameras on display at the Photo Marketing Association show in Las Vegas.

Caption by / Photo by Thomas Carey/University of Miami
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