Month Subject
  January Sea Hermit crab: The image must be of a hermit crab(s). Hermit crabs belong to the superfamily Paguroidea and most occupy empty scavenged mollusk shells to protect their fragile abdominal exoskeleton.
  February Purple: An image where the subject is predominantly purple, the color purple must be prominent in the image.
  March Schools: A group of fish that swim together in a synchronized fashion, moving in the same direction, at the same speed and turning simultaneously.
  April Sea anemones and tube anemones: An image of a sea anemone(s) (or tube anemone). This subject belongs to the phylum Cnidaria, order Actiniaria, in which adults have a stalk and a ring of tentacles surrounding the mouth. They are armed with cnidocytes (stinging cells).
  May  Symmetrical composition: The image must show symmetry in its composition. In symmetrical composition the two halves of the image are mirror images of each other. Video: TBD
  June Black background: An Image with the subject on a black background. The black background must be created in camera. This can be a blackwater image, snooted image, or created with creative strobe work. You may use global adjustments, but no masks to create the black background in all categories.
  July Eye contact: A subject that has obvious interaction with the viewer through eye contact.
  August Three Points of Interest: The image should have three points of interest that lead the eye through the image adding interest to the overall story. Examples might be a sea lion with kelp behind it and sun rays in the background, or an eel being cleaned by a shrimp with a crab or other animal in the corner. Each subject should contribute to the composition and create an image that is more interesting than if there were only one or two subjects.
  September Sea horses and relatives: The image must be of a sea horse or relative. This subject includes fish of the family Syngnathidae, the seahorses, pipefishes, pipe horses, and sea dragons. They are characterized by their elongated snouts, fused jaws, the absence of pelvic fins, and by thick plates of bony armor covering their bodies.
  October Diver as a secondary subject: An image with a diver acting as a model, or observing or interacting with a main subject.
  November Camouflage: The subject must show the use of camouflage. Camouflage, also called cryptic coloration, is a defense or tactic that organisms use to disguise their appearance, usually to blend in with their surroundings.
  December Awards banquet


  1. Wrasses - The wrassesare a family, Labridae, of marine fish that swim primarily with their pectoral fins and are generally very colorful.  Other features include thick lips, smooth scales, long dorsal and anal fins, and large, often protruding canine teeth in the front of the jaw. Ex. Sheephead,  Cleaner wrasse    
  2. Cute face - Any marine animal with "cute" or "adorable" facial features.
  3. Contrasting colors - Colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Warm and cool colors contrast with each other, (red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple) are complementary colors.
  4. Animals that create their own habitat - EX, Jawfish, Gobies with their shrimp, Sleeping Parrot Fish, tube dwelling anemones
  5. Parasite or commensal symbionts on their host; Symbionts that have either a negative effect on their host (parasite) or where only the symbiont gets a positive affect and the host is not affected (communalism)
  6. Human Interaction: "Any image that shows human use or impact in the ocean positive or negative, such as ghost nets, coral planting, reef damage, tagged animals, divers or swimmers.
  7. Brooding or protecting young – Taking care of eggs or young
  8. "Beautiful Reefs" which would include rocky reefs, coral reef, and artificial reefs.
  9. Backlighting - Positioning the main light source for a picture behind the primary subject
  10. High key - Images characterized by an abundance of light tones, lack of most shadows, and minimized contrast. They are often set against over-exposed backdrops . TBD video theme
  11. Mammals underwater – Wild marine mammals taken in their natural environment, no aquarium, or captive settings.