Hilda Canter-Lund Photography Award
Winner 2013: Chara virgata by Chris Carter
The visual focus of this image is the bright orange antheridium of the stonewort Chara virgata, with the interlocking shield cells caught just before they rupture. Its diameter is about 0.4 mm. Truly this is "garlic and sapphires in the mud" reflecting the odour and murky depths of the Northamptonshire pond out of which the sample was dragged. Most of the other taxonomic characters of the gametangia are visible: the spiral coronal cells and crown cells, the bracteoles, and the oogonium itself. In this dark field illumination we also see traces of the micro-habitat of epiphytic algae on the stonewort surface; this covering is usually much more extensive, but not this time.
Chris (right) received his PhD in 1973 for work involving chemical reactions in high vacuum but went on to have a somewhat varied career developing infra-red sensors in the electronics industry. An interest in natural history and microscopy was always there in the background and led to a fascination with algae that became serious when The Freshwater Algal Flora of the British Isles was first published in 2002 (ed. 2, 2011). This interest has been sustained by the necessary and greatly valued support and friendliness of many people in the algal community. Chris has a special interest in ways of representing the three-dimensional aspects of different algae and is trying particularly hard with desmid taxonomy: but other wonderful things keep appearing!
Christopher F. Carter
6 Church View
Northampton NN4 7LJ UK
Michelle Casanova: Nitella spaghetti
This is a Scanning Electron Micrograph of the spore of an Australian stonewort, Nitella paludigena. Each feature (‘noodle’ or ‘vermiculum’) on the surface of the spore is only a few micrometres in diameter. A dozen spores could sit on the head of a pin. Species in this group of algae (family Characeae, genus Nitella) can be distinguished on the basis of their spore features. When you can identify the spore, you can identify the species, and that gives us information about the habitat. This can help us manage water resources in Australia as the climate changes. These algae are indicators of good water conditions.
Wilson Freshwater: "A mid-January marine snow fall on Wysor's beautiful leaf"
This image is of a species in the red algal family Delesseriaceae named Augophyllum wysori. The species is characterized by small, ruffled, blades that have a beautiful blue iridescence under natural light that changes to shades of purple and pink when exposed to a camera strobe. The name "Augophyllum" reflects this and translates from Greek as 'shiny leaf.'
This image was taken with Brian Wysor (the species' namesake) at 18 m depth near Punta Mariato, a remote area of the Azuero Peninsula, Panama, January 2012. Abundant "marine snow" was suspended in the water column and covering the bottom. I particularly liked the image because it captured dislodged marine snow falling between blades similar to snow falling through tree branches in a winter forest (and makes me think of the Robert Frost poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening).
Shot with a Cannon S95 camera in a FIX S95 housing with Inon S2000 strobe, at 1/125 shutter speed and f4.0.
Héctor J. Ruiz: Opaline Coral Reef Algae
Coelothrix irregularis is a common shallow-water, coral reef-associated red alga which may display spectacular multi-colored iridescence. The alga, approximately 2 cm across, was collected at 15 meters in La Parguera, Puerto Rico and the photo was shot in the laboratory (employing a Canon 7D digital SLR with MP-E 65 mm lens, utilising extended focal imaging (ZereneStacker).
Gary Saunders: ‘Seaweed Lace’
This is a picture of the widely distributed red seaweed Martensia australis taken at 15 m depth. This plant is a female and has postfertilization structures manifesting as the beautifully blue-violet pearlescent spheres on the lacey portion of the blade – a truly sexy seaweed! This image was captured on a recent trip to Norfolk Island (Australia) at a dive site called ‘Fish Bowl’ on Nepean I. Diving on Norfolk is most certainly one of the best kept secrets in the scuba community and the seaweed flora is amazing! (Taken with an Olympus Stylus Tough-8000 using the built-in flash and an Ikelite housing.)
Dirk Schories: Blades of the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera
The giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera settles down to 12m along the protected and semi-exposed shores along the Strait of Magellan, Chile. During summer time it is nearly impossible for a diver to cross these dense kelp forests. In Austral winter daylight is short and the forests are thinning out and water transparency increases. An extremely rich fauna is present in the holdfasts of Macrocystis whereas an innumerous number of fishes find protection within the kelp forest. In the Strait of Magellan Macrocystis can be heavily grazed by sea urchins or settled by limpets. Management plans for its cultivation as well as the extraction of natural resources exist in the region. – Image was taken during Austral winter with a Nikon D300.