Researchers produce stunning images


A break in the clouds in a remote Fiordland valley and a chance encounter with a jellyfish under the Antarctic ice provide just some of the highlights from this year’s NIWA Staff Photography competition.

Science takes NIWA employees to some stunning locations and leads to some special encounters, and every year the research organisation holds a photographic competition for staff working across its climate, oceans and freshwater platforms.

This year attracted more than 400 entries and has produced another batch of spectacular results.

A moody Fiordland landscape, captured by freshwater ecologist Shannan Crow, has won the public vote for the 2021 People’s Choice award.

Christchurch-based Shannan was in the headwaters of the Eglinton River working on the release of juvenile eels when the sun peeked through the clouds and he reached for his camera.

“The scene was looking pretty poor with the dark cloud and flat light, but as I started heading back there was a small break in the clouds which let in some light further down the valley,” Shannan says.  

The “view from the office” can certainly be one of the perks of the job for NIWA’s environmental research staff.

Scientific dive specialist Rod Budd was working in the chilly waters of the Ross Sea when he snapped an Antarctic jellyfish drifting past, while algal ecologist Anita Pearson was on freshwater survey duties in the scenic MacKenzie Country when she noticed a surreal grouping of ducks on Lake Pukaki’s glacial waters.

For the record, the external judges settled on the following competition awards: Our People – Mark Murphy; Our Work – Crispin Middleton; Our Places – Jochen Bind; Emerging Photographer – Penny Smale; Special – Mark Murphy.


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Senior Communications Advisor