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World Oceans Day 2017 Photo Contest Judges Announced
By Ian Bongso-Seldrup, April 17, 2017 @ 10:00 PM (EST)

On behalf of the World Oceans Day Photo Contest partners, the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea has announced the contest judges for 2017: underwater photographer Adriana Basques; scuba instructor and marine conservationist Kudzi Victorino Dykman; ocean protection campaigner Marine Etard, nature and underwater photographer Darren Jew; underwater photographer Jerome Kim; and conservation photojournalist Thomas Peschak. The curator of the photo contest is underwater photographer Ellen Cuylaerts. Read more about them below.

The winning pictures will be recognized at the United Nations’ event marking World Oceans Day 2017 on June 8. Read more about the competition and the contest rules here.


Adriana Basques

Adriana Basques is a former IBM executive turned professional underwater photographer whose creative and award-winning imagery is devoted to bringing awareness and encouraging environmental conservation.

Born in Brazil, Adriana was hooked on scuba diving during her first experience back in 1996 in the Caribbean. She finally combined her love for the underwater world with photography in 2008, when she purchased her first DSLR camera. 

In 2010, she took a sabbatical from IBM and moved to California, focusing her interest on photography and diving. Three years later, the corporate life had lost its appeal, and she began to focus full time on nature and wildlife photography.

Adriana’s work has been featured in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, National Geographic magazine, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other magazines, calendars and books. Adriana also leads exclusive trips to remote and exotic locations around the world.

Kudzi Victorino Dykman

Kudzi was born on a tiny island in the middle of Inhambane Bay in Mozambique, where her mother, father and many of her 19 brothers and sisters still live.

She has achieved a number of firsts, inspiring thousands of young African women. She was the first East African woman to become a PADI scuba instructor, the first woman to become president of the marine conservation group Bitonga Divers, and the first female Yamaha Marine dealer in the world. She also founded Mulheres em Ação, Mulheres do Oceano and operates Kudzi Shop and Beauty Shop for the international NGO Ocean Revolution as incubators for socioeconomic empowerment for Mozambican women.

In 2014, she was part of the archeology team that discovered the slave wreck San José, which is now on permanent exhibition at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. The same year, she was also awarded International Diver of the Year by the National Association of Black Scuba Divers.

Marine Etard

Marine Etard was born in Saint-Jean de Luz on the southwest coast of France, and the ocean has always held a special place. At the age of 14, she scuba dived for the first time, in Corsica, beginning a love affair with the big blue that has persisted to this day. Since then, she has made it her mission to share the beauty and fragility of the underwater environment through the work of  its passionate underwater ambassadors.

In 1996, she joined the Festival Mondial de l’Image Sous-Marine (International Festival of Underwater Images), first in Antibes and later in Marseille, where she discovered the work of most of the world’s great underwater photographers and filmmakers, many of whom became friends.

Her many years of experience have given her a deep appreciation for the beauty of the ocean realm, but also a profound understanding of the detrimental impact human activities are having. As a member and ambassador of the World Ocean Network and the Cetacean Alliance, she is currently working to raise awareness of the plight of the oceans.

Darren Jew

After photography studies at the Queensland College of Art and work in darkrooms and commercial studios, Darren Jew spent eight years as photographer for the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, where his photographic skill found harmony with his profound love of nature.

The last two decades have seen Darren pursue his passion for capturing and sharing the natural world, producing sought-after nature, travel and scientific images both above and below the water; selling fine art prints; undertaking magazine commissions; and leading photo tours to the world’s great wildlife, landscape and marine destinations.

Darren is the author of two books: Australia: Reef, Rainforest, Red Heart, and Far and Wild: South. His images regularly appear in many magazines and books, he exhibits around Australia, and his work is used by conservation organizations worldwide.

Darren’s unique vision has seen him named Canon/AIPP Australian Science, Environment and Nature Photographer of the Year in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

Jerome Kim

Born and raised in Korea, Jerome Kim has been based in the Philippines for the last 18 years. He considers Anilao his favorite dive spot in the whole Coral Triangle because of the great opportunities for macro photography. 

He is a professional architect who considers underwater photography simply as a hobby, but his skills in design are part of what makes him strive to create the perfect underwater image. As a macro photography enthusiast, he enjoys taking photos of small critters, especially in the waters of the Philippines. 

His images are regularly published in dive magazines and newspapers, he has received multiple awards in various local and international competitions, and he is regularly invited to speak at dive shows. He was the co-organizer of the Anilao Underwater Competition for three years running and has undertaken a number of projects with the Department of Tourism of the Philippines. He has also been regularly invited to join the judging panels of various underwater photography competitions.

Thomas Peschak

Thomas P. Peschak is an assignment photographer for National Geographic magazine. He is a Founding/Associate Director of the Manta Trust, and a senior fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers. He has been named as one of the 40 most influential nature photographers in the world.

Originally trained as a marine biologist specializing in human/wildlife conflict, he retired from science fieldwork in 2004. He became a wildlife photojournalist after realizing that he could have a greater conservation impact through photographs than statistics. His work focuses on some of the most critical marine conservation issues of our time.  

He is a multiple winner in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards and received World Press Photo Awards for his work in 2011 and 2013. In 2015, he gave a TED talk, “Dive into an Ocean Photographer’s World,” aboard Mission Blue II, hosted by Dr. Sylvia Earle. Thomas is a speaker for the National Geographic Live! Series and presented his talk, Wild Seas, Secret Shores in Australia and Singapore.


Ellen Cuylaerts

Ellen Cuylaerts studied history in Belgium and received her master’s degree in modern history and education. She relocated from Belgium to the Cayman Islands in 2009, and home-schooled her two gifted teenagers. She took up scuba diving in 2011, quickly becoming a Master Scuba Diver, and decided to combine her childhood passion for photography with the wonders of the underwater world.

After diving a few months, she signed up for a workshop and decided to use the skills she had learned to spread awareness and contribute to conservation and preservation of the fragile marine environment. Her principal concerns are the degradation of the oceans through pollution, overfishing, shark finning, and the slaughter of dolphins and whales.

Ellen’s work can be seen in exhibitions around the world, and she has received numerous awards for her pictures, including coming first and second in 2014 and 2015, respectively, in two categories of the World Oceans Day Photo Competition. A member of the Ocean Artists Society since 2014, she is also a Fellow of the Explorers Club.



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Claire Parrish
Apr 19, 2017 7:49 AM
Claire Parrish wrote:
Very interresting !
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