The Virginia Institute of Marine Science has announced the winners of its annual photo contest, an in-house competition held to recognize and honor the most engaging images taken by VIMS faculty, students, and staff during their scientific work in the field and laboratory.
High-resolution versions of the images are available on the VIMS website at www.vims.edu/photocontest.
The first-place winner for 2010 is marine technician Aimee Halvorson, for her close-up photo of the eye of a clearnose skate (Raja eglanteria). Halvorson took the image aboard the research vessel Fish Hawk during the August cruise of VIMS’ Juvenile Fish Survey. The survey has been monitoring the population of Chesapeake Bay’s juvenile fishes on a monthly basis since 1955. Halvorson’s photo clearly shows the frilled membrane that protects and camouflages the skate’s eye. The clearnose skate is the most common skate in the bay.
The second-place award was earned by graduate student Lori Price and post-doctoral research associate Kim Bernard for their microscope image of a chain of single-celled plants called diatoms from the waters of the Western Antarctic Peninsula. Price is studying how climate change is affecting the community of tiny floating plants and animals that support the Antarctic’s marine food web. Her work is part of the National Science Foundation’s Long-term Ecological Research program at the U.S. Palmer Station in Antarctica. The Palmer area is experiencing the most rapid warming on Earth, with an 11°F rise in average winter temperatures since 1960. Price’s advisor, VIMS professor Deborah Steinberg, is a principal investigator on the international project.
The third-place winner was marine technician Paul Richardson, for his underwater image of a cannonball jellyfish (Stomolophus melagris) taken near Duck, North Carolina. Cannonball jellies are unusual in their ability to move rapidly by contracting their bell. They grow to 8 inches around, and occur most frequently off the Carolinas and southward.
The selection committee, headed by VIMS Publications Manager Sue Stein, also awarded a number of honorable mentions:
- Corinne Audemard—Blue crab on an oyster bag in the York River.
- Steven Baer—Sampling equipment near a pressure ridge on sea-ice near Barrow, Alaska.
- Anu Frank-Lawale—The VIMS oyster nursery following a snow shower.
- Carol Hopper Brill—Shoreline protection efforts at Yorktown Beach.
- Rochelle Seitz—Researchers sample a 200-ft seine net on the Rhode River in Maryland.
Stein lauded the quality of this year’s photo entries, noting strengths in both content and composition. She notes that VIMS uses photo-content entries to help illustrate its print publications, outreach materials, and website.