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Winning wildlife photography

31 August 2011

harp seal skin - webPhoto credit: Adam Seward

Cardiff ecologist Adam Seward has snapped up another prize in this year's British Ecological Society photographic competition.
His arresting photograph of a harp seal skin floating in the sea off Greenland was voted runner-up in the 'Ecology and society' category.

This is Adam's fourth success in the annual BES photographic competition, which last year saw him winning two out of five categories to add to the category win he picked up in 2008.

Adam, a PhD student at the School of Biosciences, snapped the photograph during field work at Qeqertarsuaq, a town on Disko Island off the west coast of Greenland.

Adam said: "The photograph shows a harp seal skin – complete with head – floating in the shallow water close to the town, with its colourful houses and spectacular setting.

"Another lay on the beach and more carcasses were strung up on a wooden frame. Although a gruesome sight, it illustrates the close connection Greenlanders have with their natural environment. Seals are the main target of the country's many hunters, but the major threat to harp seals may be climate change, because of disappearance of ice sheets on which they have their pups.

"Greenlanders have always relied on hunting in a land with rich marine resources. Traditionally, the whole animal is used in some way, although it is not clear what the fate of this skin will be."

Now close to completing his PhD on the impacts of climate change on the northern wheatear - a long-distance migratory bird – Adam plans to continue research in this area at Cardiff while also working on wildlife photography projects at home and further afield. More on Adam's photography and research can be found at:

Celebrating Ecology – an exhibition of stunning photographs from the BES photographic competition - will be on show at the University of Sheffield from 12-14 September 2011 during the BES Annual Meeting. A full list of winners and low-res images is available at

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