We’ve just put the shortlist for the 2018 Hilda Canter-Lund prize onto the BPS website and voting is now underway to determine the winners. As in previous years, we had a lot of images of marine macroalgae and rather fewer of microalgae, which is a problem that I’ve tried to address in a few posts over the years (see, for example, “How to win the Hilda Canter-Lund competition (3)”. However, the best of the micrographs were stunning and two are included on the shortlist, though they have some stiff competition. I’ll go through the shortlisted images in alphabetical order. In each case, I have included a thumbnail, but you can see better quality images at http://www.brphycsoc.org/Canter_Lund_2018/index.lasso.
Kristen Brown of the University of Queensland kicks off our shortlist with an image of the green alga Chlorodesmis fastigiata on top of a coral. Like many of our shortlisted images over the years it has both aesthetic qualities and tells a story as interactions between macroalgae and coral are believed to play fundamental role in the degradation of coral reefs. Kristen is lucky enough to have a job that lets her dive on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; our second shortlisted photographer, by contrast, dives in rather cooler waters. José M. Fariñas-Franco was returning from a dive off Aillwee, in the Connemara region, Ireland when he took his photograph of a floating kelp forest at high tide. The low light gives his image a particularly atmospheric appearance.
The next two images are both by photographers who have appeared on Hilda Canter-Lund shortlists before: Karie Holterman and John Huisman. Karie Holterman, who was last on the shortlist in 2011, uses fluorescence microscopy to show cyanobacterial (blue-green algal) filaments growing amidst a mat of benthic diatoms from the bed of a lake in California. The chlorophyll in the diatoms fluouresces with a red colour whilst DNA in the cyanobacteria pigments has been stained with Syber Green 1 to highlight its DNA. The result is one of those intriguing images that crops up in the competition from time to time, balancing a fine line between representation and abstraction.
John Huisman is a regular fixture on the Hilda Canter-Lund shortlist, winning in 2014. His entry this year takes us to a coral reef on the other side of Australia to the Great Barrier Reef and shows a calcified red alga, Ganonema, growing at a depth of 12 metres.
We return to the microscopic world for our next image: a frond of cells of the diatom Licmophora found drifting in the Bay of Santander in northern Spain by Rafael Martín-Ledo of the University of Extremadura in Badajoz. Licmophora is a diatom most often found as an epiphyte on seaweeds in the littoral zone but Rafael’s frond was free-floating, perhaps having become detached from its substratum. Rafael is a marine biologist whose interests stray well beyond algae and his Twitter feed (@martinledo) is well worth following for the wealth of beautiful images that he posts.
And finally we have an image by another old friend of the competition, Leah Reidenbach (shortlisted in 2016). Leah’s photograph shows the green alga Ulva along with some mussels set against a background of pearl-white sand in the Bay of Fires Conservation Area in Tasmania. There is nothing particularly exciting about any of the components of this picture but Leah’s photograph captures these in a pleasing, semi-abstract arrangement.
You may note one conspicuous absence from the shortlist this year: Chris Carter, who won in 2013 and 2017 and was shortlisted in 2010, 2011 and 2016 has now joined myself, Juliet Brodie and David Mann on the panel of judges who compile the shortlist. The final step will be for the BPS council to vote for the winner and that should take a couple of weeks, so keep an eye out on ALGAE-L and Twitter for an announcement before too long.
And get photographing … the 2019 competition will be starting in just 10 months time…