Capturing coral’s beauty

Eureka Prizes, Media releases

New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography

Queensland Museum photographer Gary Cranitch has been awarded the New Scientist Eureka Prize for Science Photography for his image Soft Coral.

coralSoft corals are more diverse and widespread than hard corals, but much less is known about their overall contribution to coral reef biodiversity. About one-third of the world’s soft coral species are found on the Great Barrier Reef, with our limited knowledge of these species an indication of how much we still have to learn. Through his beautiful image, Gary Cranitch highlights this true ‘indicator’ species.

“Gary’s striking image highlights the need to understand the Great Barrier Reef’s often-ignored soft corals” Kim McKay AO, Executive Director and CEO of the Australian Museum said. “I congratulate Gary on being a finalist for the second year in a row and now the winner of this prestigious prize,” she said.

Taking out second place was Murdoch University’s Aileen Elliot with her photograph Thorny-Headed Worm.

Third was Saltwater Crocodile by NSW’s Justin Gilligan.

wormThorny-Headed Worm, Aileen Elliot, Murdoch University, WA
Seeing amazing life forms, such as this thorny-headed worm (phylum Acanthocephala), has the power to turn a mundane day in the lab into one of sheer brilliance. While dissecting a bland peritoneal cyst from an eel tailed catfish, Tandanus tropicanus, Aileen Elliot was surprised when out popped this incredible little worm. With this image, Aileen gets to share her modern day Darwinian moments of discovery with others and hopes to excite and inspire the next generation of budding parasitologists.

croccSaltwater Crocodile, Justin Gilligan, NSW
Exploring the coral reefs of Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea is like being caught in a literal time warp, where the hours pass by like fleeting moments. For Justin Gilligan, this juvenile saltwater crocodile presented the perfect opportunity for a close encounter on a glistening natural stage. When taking this stunning image, Justin focused on the raised eyes and nostrils and the camouflaged skin – all adaptions this crocodile needs to live a life both above and below the water surface.

Established in 1827, the Australian Museum is the nation’s first museum and one of its foremost scientific research, educational and cultural institutions. The Eureka Prizes are the most comprehensive national science awards, honouring excellence in Research and Innovation, Leadership, Science Communication and Journalism, and School Science.

Ten images were highly commended by the judges, including the three above. All ten images are available at and are available for publication in connection with the Eureka Prizes. High‑resolution images are available on request.

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For more information about all the winners visit