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Ocean and Coastal Photo Contest Winners

The power of a breaching whale, the luminous mystery of Morro Bay at sunrise, the quiet drama of a surfing memorial and a startling seafloor surprise–all are captured by photographers in the 16th Annual Ocean and Coastal Amateur Photography Contest. Discover images of our ocean’s beauty, wonder and excitement. We talk with Sylvie Lee, program coordinator for the California Coastal Commission, who discusses the winning entries from more than 1,200 photos.



Judges’ 1st Place Winner
Humpback Whale Breaching, Moss Landing By Shane Keena
Humpback Whale Breaching, Moss Landing
By Shane Keena

View all 2014 contest winners »

The 16th annual California ocean and coastal amateur photography contest, sponsored by the California Coastal Commission, the California Thank You Ocean campaign, and Fairmont Hotels of California took place in summer 2014. The contest features photographs that reflect the importance that the coast and ocean has for California residents and the role that the Coastal Commission, Natural Resources Agency and Ocean Protection Council have played in preserving coastal and marine resources.  Come back to the website in early Summer 2015 to participate next time!

Entry is free and open to all amateur photographers. An amateur photographer is defined as someone who earns less than 50 percent of their income from photography. Photographs in this contest feature the following subjects:

  • The scenic coast and Pacific Ocean off California,
  • People and the California coast, and
  • California ocean and coastal wildlife.

Congratulations to our Viewers’ Choice Winner!

Laguna Bluebelt by Mitch Ridder

Viewer’s Choice 1st Place
“Laguna Bluebelt” by Mitch Ridder
A winter storm rolls in off the ocean as the tower of Hotel Laguna is lit in the foreground. Laguna’s Bluebelt is where the coves of Laguna Beach meet the sea as a state Marine Protected Area preserving the coast for future generations.

Photo Contest Exhibit

We are pleased to announce that our photos are currently on exhibit around the state. Come check out the winning photos in-person!

2014 Contest Timeline

  • Contest Opens: June 9, 2014
  • Submission Deadline: 11:59 pm PDT July 18, 2014
  • Voting Deadline: 11:59 pm PDT August 1, 2014
  • Announcement of Viewers’ Choice Award: mid-August 2014
  • Announcement of Judges’ Choice Award: September 2014


Four winners were announced for this contest. Online voters selected one “Viewers’ Choice” winner, while a panel of professional photographers, naturalists, and Coastal Commission and Thank You Ocean staff selected “Judges’ Choice” winners for first, second, and third place.

Winners selected from the following donated prizes:

2013 Ocean and Coastal Photo Contest Winners

View previous photo contest winners and entries