India has a coastline of 7500 km where maritime culture is flourishing, however, traditionally we are intimidated by the ocean and rarely venture into the deep waters. Blue India will raise consciousness amongst the people towards greater care and protection of our oceans and encourage ocean sports such as diving, surfing and sailing to a larger audience. The main focus of this competition is documentation of the ocean environment of India, where underwater photographers and videographers become the voice for our marine environment, in the way that wildlife photographers have become for our terrestrial forests. In addition to creating a community of ocean lovers, the objective of Blue India is to build a ‘documentation bank’. ReefWatch can use this to further their marine conservation efforts by obtaining records of animal sightings in various parts of the ocean based on the geo-locator facility in the entries.



This category has been included to encourage young ocean explorers to express their creativity through underwater photography. There are no restrictions on the type of camera used or lenses. Candidates must be under 18 years of age as of August 2019. For more details on the rules & regulations on this category

When it comes to communicating human induced threats and pressures on sea life and marine ecosystems, a picture speaks a thousand words. Under this category we invite submissions that use powerful imagery to communicate important conservation issues affecting our oceans like overfishing, entanglements, marine litter and climate change. For more details on the rules & regulations on this category

Under this category, we look for submissions of any well-composed, technically strong underwater images (for example seascapes, reefscapes, fish portraits, schools of fish, marine megafauna or close ups). We welcome pictures taken with a compact/point and shoot camera as well as DSLRs. For more details on the rules & regulations on this category


Submissions under this category can be any video less than 4 minutes long with at least 70% shot underwater. The video can be a compilation of your favourite footage or tell a story. You are free to use music, voice-overs, supers or any editing tools so long as all extraneous material used is properly credited and necessary permissions are taken. For detailed rules & regulations


Terms & Conditions

  1. By entering the competition, each entrant warrants that:
  • Their entry or entries are their own original work.
  • All details provided with their entry are true and accurate.
  • They have all necessary rights and authorities to grant ReefWatch Marine Conservation the rights granted under these rules.
  • Use of their entry by ReefWatch Marine Conservation, in accordance with these rules, will not infringe the rights of any third party.
  • Their entry does not breach any law.
  • The award of any prize to them would not breach any law.
  1. This competition is open only to Indian Nationals.
  2. Blue India competition is open to candidates of all skill levels.
  3. All submitted images and videos must be original work by the entrant. We will reach out to short-listed candidates for unedited/RAW formats of their images to prove that it is their original work. Any submission deemed to be plagiarized will be immediately disqualified.
  4. Short-listed candidates might be asked for proof of nationality and/or age if needed.
  5. The entrant is required to provide a unique title and description for each image submitted.
  6. All entrants retain copyrights to their images and videos.
  7. ReefWatch Marine Conservation and selected competition partners retain the right to publish the selected contest entries in print or online and to promote future events.
  8. All images need to have been taken underwater, except when noted otherwise in a category description.
  9. Candidates are allowed to use natural light and/or artificial lights such as strobes and flashes.
  10. Entries may have been taken from any camera – point and shoot, DSLRs, etc.
  11. It is not mandatory for applicants to be certified divers.
  12. All decisions by the jury or ReefWatch Marine Conservation will be final.
  13. All  entrants will be approached impartially.
  14. Winners will be notified by email or phone. We will try both these methods of communication and if we have not had a response from the winner within a two-week period, we will choose a new winner. Winning prizes cannot be exchanged for the cash equivalent or for an alternative in any circumstance.
  1. Each entrant acknowledges and agrees that:
  • ReefWatch Marine Conservation may disclose an entrant’s personal information to its employees, contractors, partners, and agents to assist in the conduction of the competition.
  • The names of prize winners and awardees may be published in accordance with these rules.
  • ReefWatch Marine Conservation may use entrants’ personal information for any promotional, marketing and publicity purposes, subject to privacy and spamming laws as they apply.
  • ReefWatch Marine Conservation reserves the right to reproduce or publically display and/or publish winning images. Credit will be given to all entrants.
  1. ReefWatch Marine Conservation has the authority to deem any entry void if our wild life photography ethics are not adhered to.
  2. Entrants are encouraged to edit submitted images to present it at its best. This might include but is not limited to editing for colour, contrast, sharpness, vibrancy, clarity and composition. However, we will not accept images with major edits that include removing or adding major elements, compositing of two different images etc.
  3. All entries must come via the application form, with all the requested details provided.
  4. Under no circumstance will ReefWatch Marine Conservation be liable for any:
  • Lost, late, misdirected, or incomplete submissions.
  • Injury or damage to any participant or to any computer related to, resulting from or in connection with the contest.


  1. Applications open on 15th August 2019.
  2. All entries must be received before 1st October  2019.
  3. All winners will be announced on 18th October 2019.

Photo Submission Rules

The following rules are the general rules that all entrants under the photography category must follow. Please also read the rules specific to the category you wish to enter under and our conservation guidelines.

  1. Entries must be submitted in JPEG format and should be sized to 2000 kb / 2 mb per image. However, please also retain the higher resolution image – if we need this to be enlarged and printed, we will reach out to the entrant.
  2. You may submit as many entries per contest as you wish, unless specifically mentioned otherwise in the contest specific rules.
  3. You will be able to upload only one image at a time using the website’s upload function.
  4. Images can be uploaded based on category (Under 18, Conservation, General). So multiple images can be in one category or one image per category.
  5. All images must include the EXIF metadata and have the following details:
  • Name of candidate
  • Place and time
  • Title and description of the submitted photograph or artwork
  • Environmental conditions
  • Device/ Camera used
  • Lens, extension tubes, filters, reversing ring, etc used
  • Exposure and / or additional equipment
  • Category
  1. Photographs previously submitted to Blue India should not be re-submitted.
  2. All submitted photos must contain the original EXIF metadata information. However there must be no border(s), logo(s), copyright marks, identifying marks, or any other visible references and/or marks on the image.

Video Submission Rules

  1. Entrant must submit Youtube / Vimeo / URL link to the video and please mention a password if applicable.
  2. Each video must be 4 minutes or less.
  3. If music is used, it must be properly credited and royalty-free music can be used.
  4. All voice-overs and editing must be credited.
  5. 70% of the video must be shot underwater.
  6. Entrants must have shot the footage themselves.
  7. All videos must have the relevant details
  • Name and age of candidate
  • Year the video was shot
  • Place and time
  • Environmental conditions
  • Device/Camera used
  • Exposure and/or additional equipment
  1. Videos previously submitted to Blue India should not be re-submitted.

Under 18

  1. Candidates applying for this category must be under 18 as of August 2019.
  2. Entrants can use any camera and lens.
  3. Images submitted under this category must be shot underwater.


    1. Can be shot on any camera and lens.
    2. Images submitted under this category need not necessarily be shot underwater. However, they have to depict conservation issues related to marine life and the ocean.


Payment for Submissions

  1. INR 500 will be charged for up to three images submitted.
  2. You may submit more than three entries, however an additional INR 500 will be charged for every three images.
  3. Payments can be made directly from our secure website payment gateway.

Wildlife Photography Ethics

  1. Marine life should never be stressed or endangered for the sake of a photo.
  2. Conservation rules will apply to all entries, and decisions will be final.
  3. Entries suspected of exhibiting the following behavior will be disqualified:
  • Divers 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.
  • Animals being fed.
  • Marine life being touched (e.g. coral polyps, seahorse tails).
  • Divers exhibiting poor buoyancy control.

Judging Criteria

  1. Interpretation and the clarity of the theme to the viewer.
  2. Creativity and originality of the depicted theme.
  3. Quality of artistic composition.
  4. Technical mastery of the categories.

Sponsors and Prizes


Past Winners


2018 Winners
General winner
General Category:
Sahil Lokhandwala
Conservation winner
Conservation Category:
Bhushan Bagadia
People's Choice Winner
People’s Choice:
Rehaan Khan
Under 18 winner
Under 18 Category:
Dheeraj Nanda
2017 Winners
Category:Wide Angle
1st - Donuran Das
Wide Angle Category:
Donuran Das

1st: Jonah Skoles
Macro Category:
Jonah Skoles
1st: Adhith Swaminathan
Conservation Category:
Adhith Swaminathan
Category:Under 18 

Special Mention: Sachin Khira
Under 18 Category:
Dheeraj Nanda


2018 Video Category:
Katya Saini
2017 Video Category:
Ashni Parekh


Prahlad Kakar

Prahlad Kakar is the Advertising Film Director for Genesis Film Production, one of India’s oldest and foremost ad film production houses since its inception in 1977. Prahlad founded Genesis in 1977 and invented a genre of television advertising in India in the years that followed. Prahlad has ruled the advertising world with his brand of irreverent humour, memorable brain-building campaigns and has created award winning commercials for the most reputed corporates and agencies in India and the Asia Pacific region. After having assisted renowned feature film-maker Shyam Benegal, he moved on to making advertising films. Prahlad is a certified SCUBA diving instructure, successfully running Lacadives, India’s first dive school.

Sumer Verma

Amongst the small fraternity of underwater photographers in the country, Sumer Verma is one of the best. With a portfolio that ranges from wildlife to fashion, Sumer’s skills are at the leading edge of a new breed of imaging in India. As part owner of the Lacadives group of dive centres and as one of India’s leading SCUBA diving instructors, Sumer has spent innumerable hours in and around the sea. Sumer is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, both national and international, for his creativity in still underwater photography as well as videography. His work has appeared on NDTV and in Outlook Traveler on one end of the spectrum and Vogue on the other – indicative of the range and flexibility in Sumer’s inimitable style. Follow him on Instagram: @luminousdeep

Divia Thani

Divia Thani is editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Traveller, which launched in India in October 2010 to wide acclaim, and is the country’s foremost luxury travel title. She graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh, where she has returned  to since collect the inaugural Sheth International Young Alumni Achievement Award and also as a commencement speaker. A Mumbai native, Divia has been at the forefront of lifestyle publishing in India and part of the core teams to launch international brands such as CN Traveller, Vogue and Time Out in India.Divia has trained extensively in Middle Eastern dance and enjoys travelling and science writing. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter: @diviathani

Bittu Sahgal

Bittu Sahgal, an environmental activist and writer, is the founding editor of Sanctuary Asia, India’s premier wildlife and ecology magazine. He is a member of the National Board for Wildlife of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. He is also at the forefront of the battle to protect India from the worst impacts of climate change. He has produced over 30 conservation-related documentaries. He contributes regularly to his Blog where he expounds on topical environmental issues. Follow him on Instagram: @bittusahgal