The scene of an octopus selecting its prey from a wide cast of crabs has won Justin Gilligan the title of Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the year.
Gilligan took the picture, Predatory Pursuit, at Mercury Passage between Maria Island and mainland Tasmania, and humbly says his picture was a certain case of “being in the right place at the right time.”
“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,” GIlligan said.
The freelance photographer has picked up $10,000 for his winning image, as well as a trip to Antarctica.
“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,” said Gilligan. “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.”
From the 2,174 images submitted to the competition, Gilligan also won the Botanical and Our Impact photo categories for his shots Final stand and Gillnet, Marble fish, Herring cale respectively. Winners were also announced for the rest of the 10 prize categories. A selection of those winning images can be seen below.
Predatory Pursuit and other Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year images will be on display at the South Australian Museum until September 24.
Animal Portrait Winner: Windblown egret, little egret (Egretta garzetta), Jennie Stock (WA)
Animal Behaviour Winner: Devouring a home, Giant Jellyfish, (Tiburonia granrojo) green turtles, Chelonia mydas. Scott Portelli (NSW)
Animal Habitat Winner: Happy wanderer, Short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), Jason Stephens (TAS)
Botanical Winner: Final stand, Justin Gilligan (NSW)
Landscape Winner: Spirit in country, Julie Fletcher (SA)
Monochrome Winner: Iceberg at Paradise Harbour, Brian Jones (ACT)
Junior (photographers under 18 years of age) Winner: The Dancer, Common dolphin, (Delphinus delphis), Georgia Poyner (NSW) aged 16
Our Impact (depicting human impact on nature) Winner: Gillnet, Marble fish, (Bovichtus angustifrons) herring cale, (Odax cyanomelas) Justin Gillgan (NSW)
Threatened Species (threatened, rare, vulnerable or endangered species) Winner: Coming in for a drink, Grey-headed flying fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) Elizabeth Howell, NSW
Header image: Predatory Pursuit, Justin Gilligan