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Dive Photo Guide


Third Annual World Oceans Day Photo Competition
By Ian Bongso-Seldrup, March 28, 2016 @ 06:00 AM (EST)

Overall World Oceans Day Theme Winner (2015)
Cécile Gaspar (French Polynesia)

The oceans are essential to food security and the health and survival of all life. They power our climate and they are a critical part of the biosphere. In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly decided that, as from 2009, June 8 would be designated by the United Nations as “World Oceans Day” (resolution 63/111, paragraph 171). The UN designation of World Oceans Day is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the current challenges faced by the international community in connection with the oceans—and be part of the solutions.

World Oceans Day encourages you to make a difference in your life, community, and world by taking action to protect our ocean—for present and future generations. Despite the huge challenges facing the world’s ocean, by working together we can achieve a healthy ocean that provides for the billions of humans, plants and animals which depend on it every day.

For the third year running, you can share the beauty and importance of the ocean through your photographs!


The Contest

Above Water Seascapes – Winner (2015)
James Vodicka (Australia)

Photography is a powerful medium of expression that can be used to communicate strong positive messages about a subject. This open and free photo contest seeks to inspire the creation and dissemination of such positive imagery, which conveys the beauty and importance of the ocean.

Five thematic categories are open for photographic submissions:

  1. Underwater Seascapes
  2. Underwater Life
  3. Above Water Seascapes
  4. Making a Difference: Humans in Action
  5. Youth: open category, any image of the ocean—below or above the surface (photographed by a person under 16 years of age as of 1 April 2016)

Entries must portray a positive theme and be submitted electronically in accordance with the contest guidelines and subject to the contest rules.

The competition is now closed.


Human Interaction with the Ocean – Winner (2015)
Ellen Cuylaerts (Belgium)

Winning images will be recognized at the United Nations on Wednesday, June 8, 2016 during the United Nations’ event marking World Oceans Day 2016.

We will recognize and widely share the winning images, and perhaps some top runner-ups, through the contest website, with the media, and through the information materials related to subsequent contests. Pending the securing of sponsors, material or cash prizes may be awarded.


Contest Rules

Underwater Seascapes – Winner (2015)
Ellen Cuylaerts (Belgium)

General Rules

  • The contest is open to entrants of all skill levels.
  • Photo contest staff and judges are not allowed to enter the contest.
  • Each individual can only win one prize or prize package.
  • Winners will be announced on June 8, 2016 in New York, on the occasion of the marking of 2016 World Oceans Day at the United Nations, and published on www.un.org/Depts/los/wod/photo-contest.html no later than June 20, 2016.
  • Entries may have been taken from any camera, digital or film (as scanned slides).
  • All entries must be submitted by May 20, 2016 at 5pm Eastern Standard Time (EST).
  • Conservation rules will be strictly observed. Flora and fauna should never be stressed or endangered for the sake of a photo. Entries suspected of exhibiting the following behavior will be disqualified:
    • Photographers visibly damaging the environment (e.g., gear dragging or kicking up sand).
    • Animals with signs of stress (e.g., puffed puffers, inking octopus).
    • Animals moved to an unnatural environment or risky location.
    • Marine life being touched (e.g., coral polyps, seahorse tails).
    • Divers exhibiting poor buoyancy control.

Underwater Life – Winner (2015)
Fabrice Guerin (France)

  • Images that have won or placed in photo contests with winning entries announced before 1 December 2015 may not be submitted. A winning image is defined as follows:
    • Any image that has placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in a major photography contest (to be determined subjectively by judges).
    • Any image that has placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd in any photo of the year-type contest. Photos of the day, week, or month are fine.
    Any single image that was part of a portfolio, but did not place as a single image, is eligible to be entered.
  • Photographers retain all copyrights to their images. The organizers of World Oceans Day Photo Contest retain the right to publish the contest entries in any format to congratulate or feature the winners and their respective images, and to promote future World Oceans Day events. Winning images will be included in a press release for third party websites and publications in the context of congratulating and/or featuring the winners and winning images, and to promote future World Oceans Day events. Strict guidelines requiring photo credit and specific one-time press release usage are issued along with the press release.
  • Note on photo manipulation: Post processing images is allowed. This includes global adjustments to exposure, contrast, burning, dodging, cropping, sharpening, noise reduction, and tone. Minor cleaning of images is permitted, including the removal of backscatter, dust and scratches. HDR, panoramas, focus stacking or other techniques that involve using multiple images taken at the same time and place are also allowed.

    Adding, removing or moving animals, people, plants or other objects is not allowed. For example, moving a fish, removing a reef element or adding a glow to a divers torch is not acceptable.

    While digital manipulation is permitted, please keep in mind this not a Photoshop competition. All images should accurately represent the subject matter and nature. Images that appear to be overly processed may be disqualified at the judges’ discretion.


Photo Submission Guidelines

  • Entries must be saved in JPEG format and should be sized to be between 2,000 and 6,000 pixels in the longest dimension. Please limit your images to a maximum file size of 5,000KB (5MB). Images will be viewed on a large monitor and should be in the AdobeRGB 1998 or sRGB color space.

    Note: Entrants should retain high-resolution files of their submissions. In the event your submission is selected as a finalist or winner, you will be asked to submit a high-resolution image for printing and display.
  • One image can be uploaded only into one category.

Youth Photographer – Winner (2015)
Jerard Raphaelle Baclay (Philippines)


If your organization would be interested in supporting the Annual World Oceans Day Photo Contest please contact us here.

  • Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations: Within the United Nations, The Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs, (“DOALOS”) serves as the secretariat of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement. It also assists the General Assembly of the United Nations in its policy-making role in relation to oceans and the law of the sea, among many other functions. DOALOS also assists the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel in his role as Focal Point for UN-Oceans. In these capacities, DOALOS coordinates United Nations activities relating to World Oceans Day, and seeks to raise awareness about the role the United Nations and international law can play in the sustainable development and use of the oceans and their living and non-living resources.
  • The Ocean Project: inspires action to protect our ocean with their network of approximately 2,000 partner zoos, aquariums, museums (ZAMs) and other conservation organizations—the largest ever developed. They empower their partners with cutting-edge communications research, tools, and related strategic resources, including grants that help ZAMs capture people’s imaginations, create more engaged citizens and communities, and result in a significant impact.
  • World Ocean Network: a network of 500 members including natural history museums, aquaria, and foundations, who collectively reach an audience of 600 million individuals per year in 60 States. Through its membership, it brings together the worlds of politics, science, public administration and the media, and is in a very good position to raise awareness, inform and mobilise citizens on the issue of ocean preservation.
  • DivePhotoGuide (DPG): a comprehensive underwater photography and videography resource and award-winning website for photographers and videographers of all levels. DPG has a community of over 50,000 underwater photographers and videographers from around the globe. Several times each year DPG also hosts underwater photography expeditions.
  • World Festival of Underwater Pictures: an artistic, cultural and scientific event which aims to promote better management of the sea and oceans. The World Festival of Underwater Pictures offers underwater movies, photographs, seminars, events and more.
  • IAEA OA-ICC: The Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC) is an IAEA “Peaceful Uses Initiative” (PUI) project based at the IAEA Environment Laboratories in Monaco. The OA-ICC acts as a hub to promote and facilitate global actions on ocean acidification in three overall areas: science, capacity building and communication.



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