Photo contest reflects the diversity of NOAA jobs and environments

We asked NOAA Fisheries employees, contractors, and other associates to show us their work, and more than 200 responded with captivating shots of a day in the life of NOAA Fisheries.

The fourth annual photo contest for the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast Region drew 207 entries in six categories ranging from “NOAA at work” to “Science and Technology.” This was also the first year with a category for 30-second videos, which drew 16 entries.

The submissions and winners reflected the diversity of NOAA Fisheries jobs, with photos ranging from divers on abalone surveys to a bald eagle in flight and fishermen muscling albacore tuna out of a frothy ocean. The top prize went to Jen Walsh of the Southwest Fisheries Science Center’s Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division for a striking image of a white snow petrel flying over the gray ice of the South Shetland Islands in Antarctica.

The photo “shows the bird in its environment with quiet, artistic grace,” the judges wrote. “The more we looked at this image, the more we loved it.”

Three professional photographers volunteered their time to judge the entries. They were Connor Stefanison of Burnaby, British Columbia, who took up nature photography at the age of 17; Amy Gulick, who has had her work widely published in nature and wildlife magazines and whose book, Salmon in the Trees: Life in the Tongass National Forest, won an Independent Publisher Book Award and Nautilus Book Award; and Paul Souders, a travel and wildlife photographer for more than 30 years.

“We’re grateful to all of the employees who took time to share the moments captured in these brilliant photographs,” said Irma Lagomarsino, branch chief of the West Coast Region’s Partnerships, Communications and External Affairs Branch, which organized the photo contest.

Photographs submitted for the contest will be available to the public through the agency's Flickr site which also features entries and winners from earlier competitions in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The contest photos will also be displayed in NOAA Fisheries offices and used to illustrate stories on the regional and science center websites. Following are the winning and honorable mention photos in each category.

 

SPECIES - Fish, invertebrates, turtles, mammals, birds, micro-organisms, aquatic plants

1ST PLACE & BEST IN SHOW - Snow Petrel

Jen Walsh, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division, La Jolla, California 

Snow petrel flying over sea ice during Antarctic winter, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica

Judges comment: "This image stood out for us. The petrel stands out against the dark ice band, the composition is wonderful, and the photo captures a mood. It shows the bird in its environment with quiet, artistic grace. The more we looked at this image, the more we loved it."

HONORABLE MENTION - Dolphin Water

Bernardo Alps, Marine Mammal and Turtle Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, California

Pacific White-sided Dolphins surface in calm waters during CLaWS cruise aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker. Off Catalina Island, California

Judges comment: "Painterly. Nice lines with three animals in the frame."                                     

HONORABLE MENTION - Skagit Eagle

Valerie Elliott,  West Coast Region, Oregon/Washington Coastal Office

Starting the New Year off right with a beautiful bald eagle. Skagit River, Washington

Judges comment: "Nice action and beautiful light coming in under the wings. Good composition."                                                                                                                                                                      

HONORABLE MENTION - Long Beak

Bernardo Alps, Marine Mammal and Turtle Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, California

A Long-beaked Common Dolphin leaps during CLaWS cruise aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker. Santa Cruz Island, California

Judges comment: "Fantastic action shot. Great composition. Nice capture."

HONORABLE MENTION - Jack Mackerel

Adam Obaza, West Coast Region, Protected Resources Division, Long Beach, California

Schooling jack mackerel at Ship Rock. Catalina Island, California

Judges comment: "Nice underwater shot. Shows an impressive situation handled well."

 

FISHING & FISHERIES - Sustainable seafood, NOAA and cooperative research vessels at sea or at port, recreational, commercial and tribal fishing

1ST PLACE - Cold Work

Craig D'Angelo, West Coast Region, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Long Beach, California

Commercial fishermen spend long days fishing for albacore on the fishing boat FV Her Grace, 100 nautical miles west of Astoria, Oregon

Judges comment: "Nice moment. Shows the category at its best. Nice light. Shows the harsh environment and hard work. Good composition."

HONORABLE MENTION - Albacore on

Craig D'Angelo, West Coast Region, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Long Beach, California

A commercial fisherman lands an albacore on the deck of the fishing boat FV Her Grace, 100 nautical miles west of Astoria, Oregon

Judges comment: "Nice action. God job capturing the moment."

HONORABLE MENTION - Westport Boats

Craig D'Angelo, West Coast Region, Sustainable Fisheries Division, Long Beach, California

Boats emerge from the fog in Westport, Washington

Judges comment: "Nice atmospheric shot of commercial fishing boats. Moody."

 

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY - Environmental sensors, AUVs, ROVs, submersibles, modeling, acoustics, bycatch reduction devices, tags, electrofishing, laboratory research

1ST PLACE - Ultrasound

Mike Bainter, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Seattle, Washington

Ken Massee and Tiphanie Dillon use ultrasound to check the maturation of the eggs in gravid female Sablefish. Dense pockets of eggs would lead to spawning. Manchester Research Station. Manchester, Washington

Judges comment: "This is like…whoa. It didn’t grab us immediately, but we kept coming back to the image’s depth. The more you look at it the more you see."    

HONORABLE MENTION - Acoustic Detection

Bernardo Alps, Marine Mammal and Turtle Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, California

Acoustician Kelsey Miller listens for right whales during CLaWS cruise aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker. Gulf of Alaska

Judges comment: "We all really liked this shot. You nailed it. Nice balance of light and composition."

                                                                                                                            

HABITAT - Urban, riverine, estuarine, coastal, oceanic, underwater, and scenic habitat, before & after restoration

1ST PLACE - Drakes Bay

Brian Cluer, West Coast Region, California Coastal Office

An aerial view of Drakes Bay shows tidal to lagoonal gradient. Point Reyes Peninsula, California

Judges comment: "Does a great job of showing an estuary habitat, but also works as an exquisite scenic. The clouds make the shot stand out. A good scientific image that works as art."

HONORABLE MENTION - Elephant Island

Jen Walsh, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division, La Jolla, California 

Winter sunrise at Elephant Island. South Shetland Islands, Antarctica

Judges comment: "Beautiful setting and light. Shows the harsh and dramatic Antarctic environment."

HONORABLE MENTION - Red Tide

Brian Cluer, West Coast Region, California Coastal Office

Red tide on the Lost Coast, California

Judges comment: "Shows red tide phenomenon in an accessible way and makes it understandable to the non-scientist." 

 

NOAA AT WORK - Recreational, tribal and educational events, office, dockside, or field, etc.

1ST PLACE -  Small boat work

Bernardo Alps, Marine Mammal and Turtle Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, La Jolla, California

A Humpback Whale breaches next to a research vessel doing photo ID work. During CLaWS cruise aboard NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker, in Ugak Bay, Kodiak Island, Alaska.

Judges comment: "Really nice action shot. Great at capturing the breaching whale at just the right moment. Shows the scale and close encounter."                                                                                                                                                          

HONORABLE MENTION - Abalone Dive

Adam Obaza, West Coast Region, Protected Resources Division, Long Beach, California

Diver Julie Bursek ascends to the R/V Shearwater following an abalone survey dive at the Yellow Banks of Santa Cruz Island. Channel Islands, California

Judges comment: "Nice lines. It’s tough to shoot underwater but this is well handled. Good colors and use of perspective."

HONORABLE MENTION - Net Fix

Jeremy Notch, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Fisheries Ecology Division, Santa Cruz, California

All hands on deck repairing mid water trawl net at Pier 33. San Francisco, California

Judges comment: "Nice light and a quiet moment, shows sense of space."

 

30-SECOND VIDEOS

1ST PLACE - Coho brawl on the spawning grounds

Blane Bellerud, West Coast Region, Interior Columbia Basin Office, Portland, Oregon

Coho fighting for space and mates on the spawning grounds in Eagle Creek, Oregon

Judges comment: "Fun music and interesting underwater perspective of spawning salmon."               

HONORABLE MENTION - Skokomish River, Washington

Valerie Elliott, West Coast Region, Oregon/Washington Coastal Office

Wild chum salmon trying to return to the river from pastures after flooding. Skokomish River, Washington

Judges comment: "Most wow story and original footage."                

HONORABLE MENTION - Southern Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California

Nicholas Demetras, SWFSC, Fisheries Ecology Division, Santa Cruz, California

Ecology Team sampling just a few of the catfish and striped bass

Judges comment: "The most sophisticated story telling video of the entries."