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Cardiff ecologist snaps up photo prize

31 August 2011

Cardiff University 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 the 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.

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.


For further information,

Jessica Kelly

Public Relations Office

Cardiff University

029 2087 0298

A full list of winners and low-res images are available at Any use of low-res images must be credited as copyright of the photographer.

About Adam Seward

Adam's PhD research centres on the impacts of climate change on a long-distance migratory bird, the northern wheatear. During his field work he has followed this long-distance migrant from Shetland and Greenland to Senegal, investigating how changes in food availability affect breeding success, survival and migration strategies. After completing his thesis he wants to continue with research on the effects of environmental change on animal populations.

About the British Ecological Society Photographic Competition

Open to all BES members, the BES photographic competition attracts up to 100 entries each year. The overall winner receives £750 and the overall runner-up £250. The Student award winner receives £100, and winning entries for each category are exhibited at the BES Annual Meeting and published in the BES Bulletin. Oxford University Press kindly donates £40 book tokens to each category winner and runner up entry who does not receive the overall or overall runner up prize or the student prize.

About the British Ecological Society

The British Ecological Society is a learned society, a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee. Established in 1913 by academics to promote and foster the study of ecology in its widest sense, the Society has 4,000 members in the UK and abroad. Further information is available at