Home > Ocean Exploration 2020: Photo Contest Guidelines

Ocean Exploration 2020: Photo Contest Guidelines

We’re seeking amazing photos that highlight the beauty, wonder, and value of our world ocean.

Photos will be accepted for the following categories:

  • Explorers: Share photos of you and others exploring and enjoying the ocean, be it while diving, snorkeling, kayaking, boating, etc.
  • Marine Life: Capture shots of life in the ocean, from mammals, fish, and even plants to the weird and wonderful spineless critters that call the ocean home.
  • Scenic Seascapes: Inspire us with scenic vistas across the great expanse of our ocean and coasts—sunsets and sunrises, beaches, endless stretches of open water, and more.
  • Technology and Navigation: Enter snapshots of the ships, tools, and technologies that you use to explore and enjoy our ocean.


In July, 100 of the top ocean explorers will gather at Ocean Exploration 2020: A National Forum to shape our nation’s ocean exploration program and to develop a strategy for getting to that program. In addition to invited attendees, we will be asking the online community (including YOU!) for input as well.

We are looking for photos that, as part of Ocean Exploration 2020, will help us raise awareness about the value of our ocean and the importance in exploring and understanding this largely unknown frontier.

Who’s eligible to enter?

  • Photographers at least 13 years of age or older as of April 22, 2013.
  • Amateur photographers (less than 20% of your total income is from photography).
  • You must take photographs and you must have the rights to the photo (including permission/model release for anyone identifiably pictured).

What do I win?

  • Winning photos will be featured on the Ocean Exploration 2020 website and in the final plan for a national ocean exploration program.
  • Winning photos will be printed and displayed at the Aquarium of the Pacific during the July 19-21 event.
  • An “Ocean Exploration 2020” swag bag.


  • Contest entries will be accepted from April 22, 2013, to May 3, 2013.
  • Winners will be announced on World Ocean Day, June 8, 2013 on the Aquarium’s website and via related social media channels.

How are photos judged?

Photos will be judged on the following criteria:

  1. originality,
  2. artistic composition,
  3. technical quality
  4. photographic technique, and
  5. whether the photograph showcases the value and wonder of our ocean.

Watermarked images are highly discouraged. A jury comprised of celebrity judge Michael T. Jones, NOAA, and the Aquarium of the Pacific staff will select one winner per category. Winners will be notified via e-mail by June 7, 2013.