Explore the Decade


Seventh Annual United Nations World Oceans Day Photo Competition

Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO

United Nations / Ocean Science & Technology / Ocean Policy & Sustainable Development / Business & Industry / Donors & Foundations

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:

"We appeal to all image-makers to enter the seventh edition of the United Nations World Oceans Day Photo Competition. Most of you are probably locked-down for the next few weeks. Our past encounters with marine life are now more cherished than ever and have us longing to be in the water again and show the beauty of the seas, the calming effect the waves have on us, the breeze taking all our worries away on a coastal walk. Now, more than ever, we need a reminder of the resilience we expect from the oceans and the lack of breathing space we have been giving her. We invite you to dive into your image library and enter the competition!

Apart from our classic categories open to images of underwater marine life, seascapes, landscapes, human interaction, and images showing the challenges facing the oceans, we have added some new categories to motivate you to enter pictures with perhaps less aesthetic value but strong visual storytelling values. Enter this year’s theme category “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean”, give us hope by showing how the oceans are restoring themselves by submitting to the “Rejuvenation” category, wow us with your creativity and imagination in the “Digital Ocean Photo Art” category, and as we kick off the Ocean Decade (2021–2030), inspire others with your images demonstrating “Science in Action”!

This year, we are asking every participant to agree to our charter of ethics in underwater photography. We hope that this charter will be an example for many competitions around the world, inviting photographers not just to enjoy the oceans but to lead by example and be true ocean ambassadors."

  • The Contest

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 it.

The photo competition has 10 thematic categories open for submissions:
1.NEW Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean*
2.NEW Rejuvenation**
3.Underwater Seascapes
4.Underwater Life
5.Above Water Seascapes
6.Human Interaction: Making a Difference
7.Clean Our Ocean - Images relating to the ocean that show the positive or negative consequences of human interference above or below the waterline
8.NEW Digital Ocean Photo Art***
9.Youth - Open category for photographers under 18 years of age as of 1 May 2020****
10.. NEW Science in Action: Ocean Decade 2021-2030 category*****

* The World Oceans Day 2020 Theme: “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean”
** We want to see the resilience of the ocean. Now that traffic is reduced to a minimum globally, we are curious to see in images how this translates in the water in your area, whether it be urban waterways or oceans
*** Open to images that have been creatively manipulated using photo-editing software. There are no restrictions on what tools and techniques you can use for this category
**** Open to any image of the ocean, below or above the surface, including images that have been creatively manipulated using photo-editing software
***** The objective is to show scientists (or citizens doing science) at work measuring, observing, evaluating, teaching field classes, in labs examining ocean materials such as corals, deploying equipment, or conducting ocean literacy activities with the public.

Entries must be submitted electronically in accordance with the contest guidelines and subject to the contest rules.All entries must be submitted by April 30, 2020 at 12 midnight Eastern Standard Time (EST).

  • Winners

Winning images will be recognized at the United Nations on Monday June 8 during the United Nations’ event marking World Oceans Day 2020.

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.

  • Contest Rules and Co-organizers

More details on the following page:




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