Winners of the 2017 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year announced
A visually striking image of a crowd of spider crabs (Leptomithrax gaimardii) and a predatory Maori octopus (Octopus maorum) has won the 2017 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition, which is produced by the South Australian Museum.
‘Predatory Pursuit’ by Justin Gilligan from New South Wales captured the exact moment the octopus was selecting its prey. Mr Gilligan captured the winning photograph at Mercury Passage between Maria Island and mainland Tasmania.
“I was out diving on a project with Professor Craig Johnson from the University of Tasmania when suddenly a large aggregation of spider crabs came out of nowhere. Capturing this shot was a case of being in the right place at the right time,” Mr Gilligan said.
"The unexpected encounter really reinforced how little we know about Australia's temperate marine environment. The octopus was behaving like an excited child in a candy store trying to work out which crab to consume – its eyes were definitely bigger than its belly,” he said.
Mr Gilligan wins $10,000 plus a trip to Antarctica.
“I’m blown away and extremely grateful to be named this year’s Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year. It’s an honour to be recognised in a competition that raises the profile and awareness of creatures and landscapes that don’t have their own voice,” he said.
“I’ve been taking pictures underwater for about 20 years. I really try and tell the story with my images. Whether it be an unusual species, a habitat, or a researcher it all comes down to the story behind the image.”
Mr Gilligan’s striking images have also landed him first place in the Botanical and Our Impact categories.
Mr Brian Oldman, Director of the South Australian Museum, said that Mr Gilligan’s photograph had been judged the winning entry among 2,174 photographs.
“We’re proud to produce such an exciting exhibition with each image highlighting the role museums play in educating people about nature,” he said.
The winners and runners-up are below:
Winner: Windblown egret, little egret (Egretta garzetta), Jennie Stock (WA)
Runner-up: Shortfin scorpionfish, shortfin scorpion fish (Scorpaena brachyptera), Tracey Jennings (Singapore)
Winner: Devouring a home, Giant Jellyfish, (Tiburonia granrojo) green turtles, Chelonia mydas. Scott Portelli (NSW)
Runner-up: The rehearsal, Southern royal albatross (Diomedea epomophora), Jason Hosking (NZ)
Winner: Happy wanderer, Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), Jason Stephens (TAS)
Runner-up: Aborek jetty, (unidentified species), Tracey Jennings (Singapore)
Winner: Final stand, Justin Gilligan (NSW)
Runner-up: Fungus pair, (unidentified species), Raoul Slater (QLD)
Winner: Spirit in country, Julie Fletcher (SA)
Runner-up: Kosciuszko ice, Ryan North (NSW)
Winner: Iceberg at Paradise Harbour, Brian Jones (ACT)
Runner-up: Whale shark, (Rhincodon typus), Tracey Jennings (Singapore)
Junior (photographers under 18 years of age)
Winner: The Dancer, Common dolphin, (Delphinus delphis), Georgia Poyner (NSW) aged 16
Runner-up: Morning Mist, Eastern grey kangaroo, (Macropus giganteus), Tess Poyner (NSW) aged 14
Our Impact (depicting human impact on nature)
Winner: Gillnet, Marble fish, (Bovichtus angustifrons) herring cale, (Odax cyanomelas) Justin Gillgan (NSW)
Runner-up: Tied, Australasian darter (Anhinga novaehollandiae) Lea Scaddan (WA)
Threatened Species (threatened, rare, vulnerable or endangered species)
Winner: Coming in for a drink, Grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) Elizabeth Howell, NSW
Runner-up: Wandering albatross, Wandering albatross (Diamedea exulans) Trevor Penfold (NZ)
Portfolio Prize (best portfolio of size or more images)
Winner: Julie Fletcher (SA)