Changing Planet

Inspiring Ocean Protection Through Photography

The ocean provides endless opportunities for recreation and relaxation.
The ocean provides endless opportunities for recreation and relaxation.

At the height of summer many of us are dreaming of cool ocean breezes, swimming in lakes, and playing in rivers.  Our ocean and inland waters provide endless opportunities for recreation, and also endless opportunities to appreciate the beauty – and vulnerability – of the resource that sustains our planet.

We know that photography has the power to connect people to a story far more effectively than words alone. And the act of taking a picture captures a moment in time, creates a memory, that can then be shared with friends, family, and – in the age of social media – with the world. For the many people that don’t live near a coastline photos may be the only way they ever see the ocean, so we need to find ways to both collect and disseminate incredible images that can tell the stories of the ocean – stories of its power and beauty, its vital role in mankind’s survival and also stories of the challenges it faces.

Photography competitions can play an important role in this global storytelling effort.  “Out of the Blue” is one such competition currently underway that will showcase the value and importance of our blue planet.  This competition is directed to citizens of Commonwealth countries, whose leaders will meet later this year to discuss issues of critical global importance, including the future of the ‘Blue Economy’ – an economy that depends on a healthy ocean. An incredible area of our ocean is within the jurisdiction of Commonwealth countries and more than half of those countries are islands. It’s important to engage the citizens of these critical areas and to capture imagery from around the Commonwealth’s watery environment to celebrate its beauty, highlight its importance and alert global leaders to its vulnerability. By doing so, people of the Commonwealth can directly encourage global leaders to take positive action and adopt more of the solutions that we know are at hand to protect and use natural resources in a sustainable way.

An unusual view of the ocean above the Arctic Circle, home to threatened species like polar bears.
An unusual view of the ocean above the Arctic Circle, home to threatened species like polar bears.

If you’re from one of these countries, please share your great photos on the Out of the Blue website. With this week’s announcement of cash prizes for winning images there is even more reason to participate. For the rest of us, we can follow along and “like” and share the photos that inspire us.  Enjoy the summer, capture some memories, and share them with a world to inspire protection.

Valerie Craig is Deputy to the Chief Scientist and Vice President of Operating Programs for National Geographic Society. She has strategic and operational oversight for the series of flagship programs and projects that are helping to achieve the Society's ambitious targets to deliver on the vision. She previously worked on ocean and freshwater issues for National Geographic's Impact Initiatives and Explorer Programs and oversaw the Lindblad-National Geographic Fund. Prior to joining NGS in May 2011, Valerie led TRAFFIC North America’s marine fisheries trade work, focusing on issues of legality and traceability in the seafood supply chain. Valerie earned a Master's of Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and has a Bachelor’s in International Relations.

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (

Social Media