Underwater photo contest launched for annual reef health check

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An underwater photo competition with a one-day shoot of 50 signature dive sites across the Maldives is due to take place on 28 September 2022.

The ‘Maldives 50 Best Sites’ photo contest was organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Ocean Geographic in association with the Maldives Alliance of Dive Operators to mark the 50th anniversary of tourism this year.

Scuba diving legend Hussain Rasheed, known as Sendi, launched the registration portal and official website for the event at a virtual ceremony last week. Resorts, dive centres, dive schools, and safari boats were encouraged to register to become official ‘Reef Health Check Centers,’ each of which can book up to two time slots at one of the 50 pre-selected dive sites. Tourists and local divers can also compete under an official centre.

According to the tourism ministry, the photo shoot will be “one of the key events of Tourism Golden Year” with telecommunications service provider Dhiraagu as the media partner. Industry partners have been invited to offer prizes for the winners and runners-up. An international judging panel will select the best photos with the results to be announced on 5 October.

The tourism ministry plans to hold the competition as an annual reef health check event.

“The objective is to memorialise the unique underwater haven that Maldives has to offer. While this celebration was initially conceptualised to amplify the Golden Jubilee Year, the key intention is for this event to be an annual photo contest that will serve as a yearly health check of the reefs of Maldives and act as a platform for other conservation and sustainability projects in the future,” according to the event’s website.

“All competitors will be acknowledged with a Certificate of Achievement for contribution to the Coral Reef Health Assessment of the Maldives. Competitors must submit a portfolio of five pictures for each site – one wide angle of a reef scene, one close-up of a living coral, one picture of a fish species, and two others of their own choice. A winner, runner-up, and three honourable mentions will be awarded for pictures submitted for each dive site, totalling 250 winners across all 50 sites.”

The tourism ministry and the Reef Health Assessment Project will retain usage rights of the winning photos for conservation and promotional purposes.