Justin Gilligan has been announced as one of the winners in Australia Geographic’s Nature Photographer of the Year competition for 2017. A freelance photographer hailing from New South Wales, Gilligan was the recipient of an SOSF marine photography grant in 2016. Together with journalist Pippa Ehrlich, he documented the impact of encroaching human development on Florida’s marine biodiversity. ‘Urban Pioneers: Florida’s Marine Wildlife‘ took him to the swamps and keys, photographing tarpon and nurse sharks, loggerhead turtles and silky sharks. He was honoured this year by the South Australian Museum and Australia Geographic for his photo ‘Predatory pursuit’. In the image, an army of spider crabs marches in an astounding procession, tackled by a brazen Maori octopus Macroctopus maorum, the largest of the octopus species in Australasian waters. The unexpected encounter happened at Mercury Passage, between Maria Island and the Tasmanian coast, where Gilligan was diving with scientists from the University of Tasmania studying kelp on artificial reefs. The images that were placed in the competition are currently displayed at the South Australian Museum and at the Australian Museum in Sydney.
The Save Our Seas Foundation believes that photography is a powerful tool for marine conservation. We invite emerging conservation and wildlife photographers who have a passion for marine subjects to apply for our 2016 grant. This is a unique opportunity for photographers to go on assignment, earn an income and gain experience under the guidance of National Geographic photographer Thomas Peschak.