After much heated debate, a bit of argy bargy and very nearly fisty cuffs, we're delighted to announce the winner of our Original Dive Photography Competition. We challenged photographers of all levels to show us their most original diving photo, showcasing the magic of the underwater world and inspiring the need to protect it. With over 1,500 entries judged by leading underwater photographer and marine biologist Dr Alex Mustard MBE, our very own Louisa Fisher, Head of Diving and Graeme Gourlay, Editor of DIVE magazine, the competition was tight but the Original Dive Photographer of the Year is…

mobula ray migration, Baja California, Mexico by David Valencia

WINNER: Swirling Mobulas by David Valencia

The judges were continually drawn back to Swirling Mobulas, which beautifully captures the annual mobula aggregation in Baja California, Mexico. Taken where the visibility is challenging at best and being able to capture the organised mayhem of the mobulas with such depth and movement made this a very clear winner!

Chair of the judging panel Alex Mustard commented "I love the energy in this photograph, it transports you right into the heart of this vortex of rays. As a diver I just want to be right there, as the mobulas swirl around me feeding in the plankton-rich water". We couldn't agree more.

David Valencia is a Marine Biologist, underwater photographer and PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer. He has won a luxury diving trip for two to Atmosphere Resort & Spa in the Philippines - home to some of the world's best muck diving. We look forward to seeing his photos!

Freediving under ice, Greenland by Alex Dawson

Second Place: Blue Spotlights by Alex Dawson

Alex Dawson's Blue Spotlights was taken in March this year in the Somerliq fjord near Tasiilaq in eastern Greenland. Freediver Anna von Boetticher was diving under the pack ice in minus two degrees Celsius water three to four times per day. Here she had just completed a 90-second dive to an underwater canyon under an iceberg 15m below the solid pack ice. A mesmerising image, Alex skilfully captures the light to depict an otherworldly atmosphere, where the freediver looks vulnerable against the tremendous slabs of ice.

Look out for our next blog to see the shortlisted top 20 photographs from the competition…