Winner 2015

Günter Forsterra: Octopus’s garden

Large portions of the rocky benthos along the Beagle Channel are dominated by macroalgae communities, composed of different species, here mainly Lessonia negrescens. They provide habitat and substrate for a variety of invertebrates and shelter or food for fish, some species are commercially harvested by divers. The large amount of algae biomass ground up every autumn along the wave exposed shores is food for many suspension feeders. The photo was taken during an inventory study of rocky benthos in summer 2010 with water temperatures around 5°C. Equipment: Canon EOS5 Mark II, 24mm wide angle lense, Sealux underwater housing.

The Photgrapher

Günter Försterra is the Research Coordinator at Huinay Scientific Field Station in Chilean Patagonia. He studies fjord ecosystems and is especially interested in the ecology of cold-water corals and the forces which determine species distribution within Chilean Patagonia. He co-edited a field guide to the marine benthic fauna of Chilean Patagonia and sits on several advisory committees concerned with marine conservation. Since 1994 he has used his underwater photos to promote the beauty of Patagonian marine life to the public and to governmental institutions. He is married to Vreni Häussermann, whose image was also shortlisted this year.

Shortlisted Entries 2015

Chris Carter: “Out of the Pit”

This is Tolypella glomerata, an uncommon stonewort of alkaline water. The ‘stems’ are single-celled and daintily encrusted with lime; they join up the characteristic tight fertile whorls within which are the antheridia and oogonia. The alga was found on a new Wildlife Trust reserve at Houghton Regis in Bedfordshire: a reclaimed chalk quarry full of many strange things, both natural and man-made. Although the image is taken through a ‘dissecting’ microscope it is made up of many overlapping sub images and the view is about 5 cm wide. Hopefully something to compete with the birds and butterflies!


Vreni Häussermann: Homage to Mandelbrot

The apex with its regularly aligned pneumatocysts (gas-filled bladders) is the most beautiful part of the giant kelp. Macrocystis pyrifera is one of the fastest-growing organisms on earth, growing 0.6 m a day and reaching 45 m in a growing season. This specimen was photographed at the remote, uninhabited Guafo Island (Corcovado Gulf) during an expedition to inventory marine benthic life. The waters around Guafo Island are exceptionally clear and the benthic life in the upper 20-30 m is dominated by red algae. The picture was taken with a Canon EOS5 Mark II camera and a 50-mm macro lens.

Alžběta Hesounová: Inconspicuous flatmate

A microscopic view of a colony of the heterocytous cyanobacteria Rivullaria bullata. Rivularia bullata occurs in the tidal and splash zones of marine shores and forms colonies which are visible to the naked eye and easy to recognize as small dark green slimy hemispheres. This colony was sampled from the splash zone on Ugljan Island, Croatia. If you look closely, you can recognize tiny filamentous cyanobacteria living amongst the sheaths of the Rivularia filaments. The picture was taken with an Olympus DP - 71 digital camera attached to a Olympus BX 51 light microscope, with Olympus DP Controller 3.1 software.

John Huisman: The universe in miniature - Volvox globator

Volvox is a green unicellular alga that forms spherical colonies, with reproductive structures that form in separate spherical bodies within the colony (as seen on the right). This photograph was taken of living material collected from a lake in South Perth, Western Australia. I pass this lake on my way to work and out of curiosity often take a water sample. The photograph was taken on a Nikon 80i microscope, using darkfield illumination. Several images were taken at different focal planes and then stacked in Adobe Photoshop CS5. For scale, the frame width is approximately 600 µm.

Daniella Schatz: Viral attack

Scanning electron micrographs of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi RCC1216. Left- a healthy cell with calcium carbonate coccoliths; Right - a cell infected with the Emiliania huxleyi virus (EhV201, orange). EhV is a large dsDNA virus that is responsible for the demise of vast oceanic blooms of E. huxleyi. During viral infection the cells undergo programmed cell death and shed their coccoliths, important components of the carbon cycle.
Specimens were fixed, coated with gold and imaged using a Zeiss Supra 55 FEG SEM. Photoshop was used to mask background and color viruses. Images acquired at the Electron Microscopy Unit at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

J. Robert Waaland: The Blue Iridescent Red Seaweed, Gloiocladia laciniata

This image is of Gloiocladia laciniata, a red seaweed with strong, eye-catching iridescence.  It occurs from Alaska to Baja California in low intertidal and subtidal rocky habitats. These specimens were growing in the low intertidal on the wall of a surge channel with an overhanging fringe of Saccharina sessilis at Botanical Beach on Vancouver Island, a location made famous by Josephine Tilden, who selected it for its high seaweed diversity and established the Minnesota Seaside Station which operated there from 1901 to 1906. Image details: natural light, hand-held Canon G16 about 0825 PDT, 3 June 2015.