Once upon a time, before children and a ‘real’ job, I used to do a lot of photography just for the sake of creating interesting images. Nowadays, most of the photography I produce arises from my research. It often makes for quite intriguing shots, though, many of which give a bit of insight into the ocean and the amazing creatures that inhabit it.

Ocean creatures

Batfish, Platax teira (?). We caught these guys checking out one of our GoPros in the lagoon (see “Videos” page). Photo extracted by Dr. Alastair Harbourne. Heron Island.

Surgeonfish, Acanthurus nigricans. Always keeping a watchful eye out, even while having a tasty seaweed meal. Palmyra Atoll.

 Seabirds of some sort. I’m not really a bird person…but these are quite graceful and I like this picture. Palmyra Atoll.


Cowtail sting rays, Pastinachus sephen. The rays often have a full-moon party in the  lagoon at high tide… Heron Island.

Hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri). Waiting to pounce on unsuspecting prey. Palmyra Atoll.

Snapper and surgeonfish (Lutjanus bohar and (mostly) Acanthurus triostegus). This picture really captures the ‘zone of fear’ that the larger snapper create for the smaller surgeonfish. We watched this interaction for about 20 minutes one day…the snapper never attacked, but the surgeonfish knew to keep their distance and the bubble, or ‘vacuole’, they kept about the snapper never disappeared. Palmyra Atoll.

Damselfish (Chromis viridis, I think). Staying close to home. Palmyra Atoll.

Butterflyfish eating coral. Palmyra Atoll.

Turtle. This turtle was one of the least skittish I’ve come across at Palmyra. From what I’ve seen and heard, quite a few of the turtles there have a missing flipper. I guess that’s the cost of doing business on an unfished, predator-filled reef. Palmyra Atoll.

Blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus). Cruising. Palmyra Atoll.

Fieldwork photos

Human, from a fish’s eye view. Heron Island.

Coral Garden. My favourite field site. Palmyra Atoll.

Our daily commute to Coral Garden. Palmyra Atoll.

Our research vessel. See that island in the background? We dragged this bin, with all our gear in it, behind us, on foot, to and from there every day for a week. That commute was slightly less fun than the one above. Heron Island.

Measuring fish movement. Palmyra Atoll

Counting fish. Palmyra Atoll.

Siesta. This is what happens when you work your assistants too hard. Palmyra Atoll.

Fun. You can’t work hard all the time. Palmyra Atoll.

Bumpy. Six months into my first pregnancy wasn’t the ideal time to lead a research cruise…but in the end it was not only possible, but worked out just fine. Plus, I floated really well. Far northern Great Barrier Reef.

Sunset. Palmyra Atoll.

All images copyrighted; images may be used for non-commercial educational purposes if attribution is provided. For other uses, please contact Elizabeth Madin.