News

Underwater wonder

HORSING AROUND: Richard Wylie’s image Weedy Seadragon in the Light was named the winner of the 2012 National Geographic-La Mer Oceans Photo Contest.
HORSING AROUND: Richard Wylie’s image Weedy Seadragon in the Light was named the winner of the 2012 National Geographic-La Mer Oceans Photo Contest.

IT WAS on a clear, windless day a year ago that Southern Cross University researcher and amateur photographer Richard Wylie (pictured above) went for a dive in the cool waters of Victoria's Mornington Peninsula and snapped a photograph of an incubating male weedy seadragon (Phyllopteryx taeniolatus). The beautiful photo has now won the 2012 National Geographic-La Mer Oceans Photo Contest, beating hundreds of other entries submitted by professional wildlife photographers. His prize is a $27,000 trip to Alaska on a National Geographic photography expedition next year where he will work closely with one of National Geographic's staff photographers.

"I'm hopeless at taking photos of people, but put a fish in front of me and suddenly it's not so bad," Richard laughed.

Richard has spent 30 years working as a marine biologist and has dived thousands of times, but it wasn't until a year-and-a-half ago that he bought his first digital SLR camera and began to photograph underwater wildlife.

"I had a hip replacement and wanted to do something less energetic," Richard said. "Now I wish I had a camera in my hand over the last 30 years. I spend so much time underwater, I know what the animals are going to do - they and I both relax and I can get a good photo."

Richard currently lectures at universities and works with young people, teaching them marine science. That was the catalyst that made him want to undertake a PhD investigating marine education in Australia.

"I was frustrated that there was not much information out about marine biology to teach in schools, so part of my PhD is researching curriculum for marine science in primary and secondary schools."

He is also looking at how photography can be used as a tool for education and conservation.

"It used to drive me nuts when I'd take the kids snorkelling and they would swim right over the fish without looking at them," Richard said.

"When I gave them a camera, it made them focus their attention on marine life identification and suddenly they found so much more and became interested.

"In my lecturing and teaching, I show photos and say how I took it and it sparks conversation. Photography has power in helping marine conservation by making people aware of what's going on," he said.

The CSIRO now wants Richard to produce more photographs of weedy seadragons for posters to be distributed nationally. Every year in spring, male and female seadragons perform a beautiful dance which culminates in the female passing fertilised eggs to the male who then incubates them until hatching two months later.

"The weedy seadragon is listed as near-threatened from habitat destruction and pollution, but we don't know much about it," Richard said.

"It's related to the seahorse and we know it's found in a limited geographical area in Southern Australia, but we don't know what the real population is."

Photography is an expensive hobby and with an underwater camera housing costing $2000, Richard is happy he has won the competition and is looking forward to taking the trip to Alaska and Canada where he will attempt to photograph beluga whales underwater as they enter fresher water to moult by rubbing their skins on the pebbles.

"Winning justifies the expense of photography," Richard laughed. "The trip will be a fantastic experience and if I'm lucky the photos may even win another award."


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Feed brain and body will take care of the rest

Psychologist and author on brain nutrition and dealing with female stress, Delia McCabe, talks at Lismore's City Library.

Delia McCabe talks about her new book in Lismore: Feed The Brain.

New Australian film a Goldstone

STARS: Jacki Weaver and David Wenham in a scene from the movie Goldstone.

Detective Jay Swan is back to the big screen

Local musos: Ask Minister Grant for a music grant

OPPORTUNITY: Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant has asked NSW musicians to apply for the Opportunity Development Grants Program.

Applications close on Tuesday, September 6.

Latest deals and offers

New Australian film a Goldstone

Detective Jay Swan is back to the big screen with a long list of Aussie stars

Local musos: Ask Minister Grant for a music grant

OPPORTUNITY: Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant has asked NSW musicians to apply for the Opportunity Development Grants Program.

Applications close on Tuesday, September 6.

Multiple guns and drugs seized in raid

Guns seized from a property at Ellangowan.

Twp people have been charged following a raid this morning

Guns, bullets, and drugs seized in Northern Rivers raid

Police conduct drug raids in the city and surrounding areas, confiscating an array of drugs, implements used to conceal drugs, and firearms. A number of people are on multiple charges. July 8, 2016

Rural property searched and two people charged.

Search for Lismore’s new supermodel

Senior finalists represented Lismore in the 2015 Tamblyn Model Discovery Grand Final.

Tamblyn Young Model Search held from Thursday at Lismore Square

NORPA brings My Radio Heart back

Performers in the NORPA co-production My Radio Heart, from left, Randolf Reimann, Phoebe Rose, Mathew Daymond, Claudie Frock, Zac Mifsud (sitting), and Lydian Dunbar. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star

The piece premiered in 2014 in Lismore

Elm Street is far from a nightmare

Elm street's new album is making waves. Photo Contributed

Elm Street talks about drumming studios, power metal and the album.

What's on the small screen this week

Keira Maguire and Richie Strahan in a scene from The Bachelor.

SEVEN gears up for the Rio Olympics while The Bachelor continues.

Drowning Pool gig review at Max Watt's

Drowning Pool played Brisbane with A Breach of Silence and She Cries Wolf at the Max Watt's House of Music.

Drowning Pool prove that 'bodies' hit the floor when they play

New Australian film a Goldstone

STARS: Jacki Weaver and David Wenham in a scene from the movie Goldstone.

Detective Jay Swan is back to the big screen

#SaveMarinaJoyce: How ISIS theory took over youtube channel

One young Youtuber accidentally gave rise to a conspiracy theory

Local musos: Ask Minister Grant for a music grant

OPPORTUNITY: Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant has asked NSW musicians to apply for the Opportunity Development Grants Program.

Applications close on Tuesday, September 6.

Queensland's $1 town goes under the hammer today

The township of Yelarbon is up for sale.

Unprecedented auction of town's business centre with no reserve

Work starts on $15M Caloundra apartment building

Turning the first sod at the Aqua View Apartments site in Kings Beach are (from left) husband-and-wife developers Alex Yuan and Stella Sun with construction company Tomkins director Mike Tomkins and Councillor Tim Dwyer.

Developers excited about addition to Kings Beach skyline

Plans revealed for 1500-lot 'master-planned community'

Precinct will be bounded by Boundary St and Shoesmith Rd

Ecco Ripley sales run sparks prime release

MOVING IN: Sekisui House has announced the release of more residential blocks at Ecco Ripley.

Sekisui House is preparing to unveil more land at Ecco Ripley

Massive residential 9-storey high-rise hit by delays

An artist’s impression of the eight-storey-high apartment complex that Bernoth Holdings wants to build in South Toowoomba, next to the City Golf Club.

Developer struggles to get approved high-rise development started