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International Coral Reef Symposium 2020 Holds Photo Competition

“Colorful diversity, white death – what can colors tell us about coral reefs?” is the motto of the photography competition being held in the frame of the next International Coral Reef Symposium, which will be held in Bremen for the first time in July 2020. Entries will be accepted until February 29.

The International Coral reef Symposium (ICRS) is by far the most significant international conference that deals with the coral reef ecosystems. Since 1967, people from the fields of science, coastal management, environment protection, and politics meet every four years and present their current research findings. The 14th ICRS is being held from July 5-10, 2020, in Bremen – and for the first time in Europe. More than 2500 participants are expected. “This conference holds particular importance,” says Professor Christian Wild from the University of Bremen. He is organizing the event with his team. “We are experiencing a worldwide coral reef crisis and the existence of the ecosystems is in danger.” The causes of this are mainly climate change, overfishing, and the polluting of the oceans.

Photography Competition Should Visualize Beauty, Threats, and Science

Not only research findings can portray a picture of the current situation, but also impressive photographs. “Therefore, the ICRS 2020 is asking for help in making a visual inventory of the world coral reefs accessible for the masses,” says Professor Christian Wild. Anyone who is interested can take part. The best works will be part of an exhibition in the Haus der Wissenschaft (House of Science) in Bremen between June 26, and August 27, 2020. The winners will not only feature in the exhibition but will have the chance to win great prizes. There are several categories/themes for which photographs can be submitted in the competition:

Category 1 / Beauty: Colorful Diversity – The World of Colors

Coral reefs are the most species-rich ecosystem in the oceans. They cover only 0.2% of the ocean surface, but they are home to more than a third of all fish and invertebrates in the oceans. This great diversity of species finds its aesthetic expression in an incredible variety of shapes and colors. The images and films from this unique ecosystem fascinate us again and again. Biodiversity becomes visible and experienceable in this ecosystem and makes coral reefs unique among all ecosystems on earth.

Category 2 / Threats: World without Colors

But the colorful coral reefs full of life are becoming increasingly rare. Colorless grey and greenish brown boulders are becoming more common. Global causes such as the rise in sea temperatures caused by climate change are forcing corals to release their symbiotic algae. The corals bleach. If the heat period lasts too long, the corals will die. The white will change to grey and when the algae take over, the color spectrum turns brown-green. Moreover, the large number of colorful reef fish will disappear. Local threats like overfishing and pollution also lead to the death of the coral reefs. Sediments and poisons lay a colorless, suffocating veil over the reef. Nutrients from agriculture shift the balance to the algae. The diversity of species in the coral reefs is directly related to the diversity of coral species. When the corals die, all animals that depend on them suffer the same fate.

Category 3 / Science

Many processes in coral reefs still need to be researched. Neither do we know all species and their behavior, nor do we know all active substances that might be of interest for drugs. And what are the best solutions for protecting coral reefs? Research can help us to recognize the importance of reefs and preserve their color and diversity. New imaging techniques, such as hyperspectral photography, show us the inhabitants of reefs in ways that our eyes could never see. Fluorescence shows us corals in a completely different light. The theme of this category is the everyday research in coral reefs or laboratories.

Conditions of Participation

Each participant can submit a maximum of three photographs. Image size must be at least 3000 x 4000 pixels. Please submit photographs (maximum total size per e-mail 10 MB) to: photocompetitionprotect me ?!icrs2020protect me ?!.de


Further Information:



ICRS 2020
Conference office
Marine Ecology
University of Bremen
Heinz Krimmer
Email: photocompetitionprotect me ?!icrs2020protect me ?!.de

Collage with fotos of marine animals and plants
What do colors and research tell us about coral reefs – the existence of these ecosystems is under threat.
Logo mit Bild und Schrift
The logo of the International Coral reef Symposium 2020. For the first time, the symposium will take place in Bremen and in Europe.