THE STAGE is set for the world’s largest underwater macro photography shootout and it is happening in the Philippines.

Dubbed as the “World Cup of Underwater Photo Competitions,” the Anilao Underwater Shootout is back for its fifth year on Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 in Mabini, Batangas.

Organized by the Department of Tourism (DoT) and co-organized by Philippine Airlines (PAL), the 5th Anilao Underwater Shootout is expected to attract more than 200 underwater photography enthusiasts from all over the world, thus making it one of the biggest in the world.

Last year’s competition drew in 165 competitors from the Philippines, Singapore, China, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, Turkey, Portugal, the USA, Switzerland, Germany, France, Australia, and Canada. With PAL offering an additional 40 kilos free in baggage capacity for traveling divers, more overseas participants are expected to flock to the waters of Anilao and capture through their lens its colorful and diverse marine life.

Anilao has a variety of dive sites suitable for every type of diver and photographer and stunning seascapes which makes it one of the world’s premier underwater photography destination and the perfect setting for the annual shootout.

Anilao Underwater Shootout Logo

“The DoT is also leading in the implementation of a strict ‘No Marine Life Manipulation’ policy for underwater photography competitions, employing the assistance of spotters and dive guides to help ensure the protection and conservation of marine life during the competition proper. With the cooperation of the local government units and the resorts owners association, we have been able to successfully implement this so that the country continues to enjoy Anilao as one of the best dive destinations in the world,” said Undersecretary for Tourism Development, Benito C. Bengzon, Jr., in a press release.

The panel of judges at this year’s shootout are nature photographer and Lennart Nilsson Award winner David Doubilet; aquatic biologist and widely published photojournalist Jennifer Hayes; Palme D’or winner and photographer Scott “Gutsy” Tuason; Singapore-based veteran diver and underwater photographer William Tan; Tobias Friedrich, diver and award-winning photographer from Germany; and Yoshi Hirata, Philippines-based Japanese marine biologist and accomplished underwater photographer.

The competition will have an Open Class for participants with any type of camera and accessories, in which published and professional photographers will automatically be placed; and a Compact Class, exclusively for participants using cameras without interchangeable camera lenses. Mirrorless, SLR, and similar types of cameras are not permitted in this class. The categories for the competition will be: Macro/Supermacro, Marine Behavior, Nudibranch, Fish Portrait, and Cephalopod.

Two special categories are also available at this year’s competition: Blackwater and Bonfire, which must feature animals found and photographed by doing either blackwater or bonfire dives; and GoPro/iPhone Special Beginners, a new category for participants who use GoPros, smartphones, and the like for underwater photography.

Each category will have 1st, 2nd, and 3rd placers for both Open and Compact classes, while special categories will have one winner each. DoT and PAL will also be awarding the Photographer of the Year, with one winner each for the Open and Compact Classes.

Registration and submission of entries for the competition proper will be held at Acacia Resort and Dive Center, while awarding and closing ceremonies will take place at Camp Netanya. Visit and for details.