In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly decided that, as from 2009, June 8th would be designated by the United Nations as "World Oceans Day." We recognize that our oceans are essential to securing food and survival of all life on planet Earth. They power our climate and they are a critical part of the biosphere.
World Oceans Day encourages you to make a difference in your life, in your community, and in the world by taking action to protect our ocean—for present and future generations. Despite the huge challenges facing the world’s oceans such as plastic pollution, overfishing and climate change, by working together we can achieve a healthier ocean that will provide for the billions of humans, plants and animals which depend on it every day.
From Ellen Cuylaerts, UN World Oceans Day Photo Competition Curator:
The 10th anniversary of the UN World Oceans Day Photo Competition should be a celebration of thought-provoking ocean imagery, a visual showcase of ocean challenges viewed through your lens. This year’s six categories represent pillars of the 2023 UN World Oceans Day Theme, ‘Planet Ocean: Tides Are Changing.’ We invite you to enter your interpretations of: ‘No Time to Waste,’ ‘Putting the Ocean First,’ ‘The Wonderful World of Tides,’ ‘Ocean Is Life,’ ‘Big and Small Underwater Faces,’ and ‘Underwater Seascapes.’
Think about the stories you want the world to see. Our judges are looking for images that leave them mesmerized, moved, intrigued, and wanting to know more and share your work with the world! Congratulations and thank you to all our past participants and winners—we hope everyone celebrates with us!
We are asking all participants to agree to our charter of ethics in underwater photography established in 2020 (see below), inviting photographers not just to enjoy the oceans but to lead by example and be true ocean ambassadors.
© Aunk Horwang (Thailand). Revitalization – Winner (2022)
Photography is a powerful medium to convey a feeling or a message. This open and free photo competition seeks to inspire the creation of imagery capturing the beauty, the challenges and the importance of the ocean and humankind’s relation to it, hoping to contribute to actions to preserve this vital resource.
The photo competition has six thematic categories open for submissions:
Winning images will be recognized at the United Nations on June 8th during the United Nations' event marking World Oceans Day 2023. Recognition and diffusion of the winning images and finalists will be widely exposed throughout the contest websites, the media and the informational materials related to subsequent competitions. Winning photos have been printed for exhibitions around the world.
Entries must be submitted electronically in accordance with the contest guidelines and subject to the contest rules.
All entries must be submitted by April 23rd, 2023 at 12 midnight Eastern Standard Time (EST).
© Cao Nguyen Vu (Vietnam). Above Water Seascapes — Winner (2022)
I, working in the underwater realm, commit myself to the following code of ethics and bringing education and awareness around my encounters, to help preserve our oceans and blue planet!
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.
© Nicholas Hahn (Argentina). Underwater Seascapes — Winner (2022)
Note: Entrants should retain high-resolution and RAW files, if applicable, 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, and, if applicable, a RAW image to check if adjustments made to the image comply with the rules.
Ipah Uid Lynn is an award-winning professional photographer born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Her creative photography work has been recognized in numerous prestigious international competitions, and her images have been published in print and online dive publications all over the world.
Ipah is a regular speaker at international dive shows. Her love and passion for the underwater world inspires her to educate people about the challenges we face in protecting our oceans and the importance of conserving marine ecosystems for future generations.
Rajan Desai became interested in photography at the age of 15 when his uncle gave him a point-and-shoot camera. He became serious about the pursuit when he read the book Photography for the Joy of It by Freeman Patterson and completed the Mass Audubon Birder’s Certificate Program to learn about birds, their habitats, migration patterns, and more.
Rajan is keen to experience the hidden wonders in nature all over the world and is passionate about capturing images that tell a story about the natural world around us.
Rathika Ramasamy is one of India’s foremost wildlife photographers. Her work has been featured in several exhibitions and numerous national and international publications. She is the founder of the RR Foundation for Wildlife Conservation (RRFWC), a non-profit that organizes photography workshops to help students understand the value of biodiversity and sustainability.
Rathika has served on the jury panel of many national and international photography contests, including the National Photography Awards, instituted by the Government of India. For her, wildlife photography is not only a passion, but also a powerful medium to connect people with nature and help motivate the conservation of the natural world.
Antoine Janssens is a Swiss-born content creator, now living on the road. Antoine’s career has been fueled by a lifelong passion for travel and film creation.
Growing up, he had a desire to see the world, which drove him to explore vast landscapes, interact with thousands of animal species, meet different people, and learn from global cultures. In doing so, Antoine developed a passion for storytelling that drove him to create films and pursue photography to share all his passions with the world.
If your organization would be interested in supporting the Annual World Oceans Day Photo Contest please contact us here.
Competition curator Ellen Cuylaerts talks to Joanna Smart, the photographer that shot the overall winner of the 2020 World Oceans Day Photo Competition
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Jonas Thormar tells the story behind his award-winning split-shot leopard seal image