Hilda Canter-Lund 2023

This award was established by the British Phycological Society in recognition of Hilda Canter-Lund, whose stunning photographs will be known to many members. Her photomicrographs of freshwater algae combined high technical and aesthetic qualities whilst still capturing the quintessence of the organisms she was studying.

Congratulations to all that made the shortlist, the competition was strong this year, and the BPS thanks everyone who submitted images and voted for their favorites.

2023 Winners

Macro category – Shannon Moran: “Golden Kelp in Evening Light

Shannon Moran is an award-winning underwater photographer based in Cornwall, UK. After graduating from Marine and Natural History Photography in 2020, she has continued to photograph the incredible marine life found in our oceans.

Twitter @Shannon_Photo, Instagram @ShannonMoranPhoto

Golden Kelp (Laminaria ochroleuca), aptly named due to its rich gold colour. This image was captured just a few meters below the surface in Falmouth, Cornwall. Photographed in the early evening light using an Olympus EM1ii in a Nauticam underwater housing, with a Lumix 8mm Fisheye lens and two Inon strobes providing fill-in flash, illuminating the kelp in the foreground.

Micro category – Giulia Marchioro: “Zooxanthellae and the fluorescent chamber

Giulia Marchioro is a Ph.D. candidate at the Vienna Doctoral School of Ecology and Evolution and the Natural History Museum Vienna, in Austria, funded by FCT, Portugal. Her collaborative project with the Adameyko lab at the Medical University of Vienna and the Haus des Meeres focuses on the investigation of the distribution patterns and expression profiles of fluorescent proteins (FPs) in mesophotic corals and how FPs can modulate light use by the coral’s photoautotrophic endosymbionts (zooxanthellae). Giulia has always been fascinated by marine life and diving, but it was during an internship at HIMB (USA) in 2015, she became passionate about coral reefs and in exploring and understanding the wonders of this environment.

Zooxanthellae is the informal term for golden-brown algae (dinoflagellates) living in symbiosis with corals. Corals produce a variety of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-like compounds to protect the zooxanthellae from harmful radiation in shallow-water environments, thus preserving their relationship. The image was taken using confocal microscopy (Zeiss LSM 780 at 64x) that allows for capturing natural fluorescence from both host proteins (in green/blue in the coral epidermis) and the chlorophyll (in red) present in the zooxanthellae.

Coral species: Echinopora lamellosa from Haus des Meeres: Aqua Terra Zoo, Vienna, Austria.

2023 Highly Commended – Macro category

Samantha Clements: “San Clemente Island Giant Kelp

Giant Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) grows abundantly at San Clemente Island in the Channel Islands off of the coast of Southern California, despite statewide declines along the coast. This is a close up of a giant kelp scimitar (the growing tip) captured in June of 2022 while conducting research in the Channel Islands. The image was captured using a Canon G16 point-and-shoot camera in an underwater housing with natural sunlight as the sole light source, highlighting the natural beauty of this species that is so special to the Golden State.

Alex Thomson: “painted ceiling

The snow algae Sanguina sp. paints the ceiling of a summer snow tunnel blood red. The algae likely bloomed on the surface of the snow-pack above, forming the characteristic blood-red pigment to protect themselves from UV stress. Rain and snowmelt will then have deposited the cells on the icy roof of the snow tunnel. This patch, covering about 15 x 20 m, was found in August on the flanks of Ben Macdui in the Cairngorms. Similar blooms occur on summer snows throughout Scotland from June to September. Sadly, patches like these, and the habitat they provide for snow algae, are predicted to become a rare sight in Scotland in the summer. (Camera settings: Fujifilm XT-20, 26.5 mm, f/3.6, 1/160s, ISO 400, no flash)

2023 Highly Commended – Micro category

Ana Knezevic: “Red beauty

This is a photomicrograph of a fascinating species of Batrachospermum, a freshwater red alga. This remarkable species lives on stones or rocks, especially in cool, clean, slightly alkaline and well-oxygenated water habitats.
During the spring of 2022, an expedition was carried out to the Buna River in the south part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where samples of this Batrachospermum species were collected. The expedition aimed to study and document the biodiversity of these amazing organisms in their natural environment.
The micrograph was captured using a Zeiss AxioImager M.1 microscope equipped with an AxioCam MR5 – DIC optic at 40X magnification. The image shows the delicate structure and vivid pigmentation characteristic of this freshwater red alga.
It is important to note that the distribution and abundance of Batrachospermum, as well as many other species, can be significantly affected by anthropogenic activities. Strong human impacts on their habitats, such as pollution or changes in water conditions, pose a serious threat to the survival and reproduction of these beautiful organisms. By raising awareness and promoting responsible environmental practices, we can help preserve the biodiversity and ecological balance of our freshwater ecosystems.

Callum Whyte: “Armoured buddies

A group of Lingulodinium polyedra cells taken on a JEOL JSM 6390LV Scanning electron microscope at 1200 x magnification. The cells were grown in culture at the Culture Collection of Algae and Protozoa, hosted by the Scottish Association for Marine Science. The filter paper in the image background was darkened using the shading tool in Photoshop CC to make it less distracting. Lingulodinium polyedra is a bioluminescent dinoflagellate and was isolated from a sample taken in Loch Creran, Scotland.

Pichaya Lertvilai: “Macrocystis pyrifera

This image captures the embryonic stage of a giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) sporophyte following fertilization (~5mm across). Despite its small size at this stage, this sporophyte has the potential to grow into a towering giant kelp (over 30m), serving as the cornerstone of the kelp forest ecosystem.

Specimens were cultivated by Mohammad Sedarat, PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, whose research explores thermal tolerance in giant kelp. This entry highlights a multidisciplinary collaboration to catalogue morphological differences of M. pyrifera across a range of environmental stress regimes using high resolution imagery.

This image was taken with a darkfield microscopy technique with a 5x magnification and with focal stacking to enhance depth of field.