This is the first time humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) mating has ever been filmed. (Credit: Jason Edward)

Best science photos of 2012 awarded

  • BY Julian Jantos |
  • August 29, 2012

An image of humpback whale sex is among top science and nature photos from the 2012 Eureka Prizes.

AUSTRALIAN GEOGRAPHIC CONTRIBUTOR Jason Edwards has won the Eureka prize for Science Photography for the second year in a row, with a remarkable image that captures humpback whales mating on film for the first time.

The winning photo was the result of hours of underwater observation while a group of male humpbacks competed to mate with the female - the resultant image shows a male and female in a close embrace tens of metres below the surface.

Other photographs among the top ten photography finalists show a critically endangered Lord Howe Island stick insect hatching from an egg, a fly preserved in Baltic amber, the surface of the Sun in uniquely high resolution and the release of a red-throat emperor fish after surgery to implant an acoustic tag.

See Jason's winning photo of a receding glacial cap with cryoalgae from last year's awards here.

Rewarding excellence in science

Ashley Hay, an Australian Geographic contributing writer, was a finalist for the Eureka Prize for Science Journalism for her story Aussie Mozzie Possie, published by the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Weekend magazine. But the award went to Gisela Kauffman and Carsten Orlt for their documentary on mantra ray research which aired on the ABC in March.

The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in science, research, technology, science teaching, school science and science journalism and communication.

The awards, which were held on Tuesday evening at Sydney's Royal Hall of Industries, saw hundreds of science and media professionals gather to watch $180,000 in prize money doled out to 18 winning entries from 56 finalists. The full list of scientists, teachers, schoolkids and other winners can be found below.

"The winners of the 23rd Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are a testament to the imagination and innovation driving Australian science today," says Frank Howarth, Director of the Australian Museum. "These outstanding men and women are helping to improve our lives and our planet in countless ways."

ABC TV will broadcast their coverage of the Eureka Prizes on Catalyst on ABC1 at 8:00pm, Thursday, August 30, 2012.

Best Australian science photos of 2011
Best science and nature photos 2010 awarded
Best panoramic photos of 2011
Australia's best photographers lauded
Celebrating female photographers
Reader photos: Aussie landscapes
Wildlife photographer of the year
Best Australian Nature photography
Photography tips with Chris Bray
Prime Ministers science prizes awarded
Physics Nobel laureate thought prize was a joke
PM Science prize winners announced 2011


Eureka Prize for Scientific Research
Professor John Webb, Professor Victor Flambaum, Dr Julian King, Dr Julian Berengut and Associate Professor Michael Murphy
Research: Found that the strength of electromagnetism changes gradually from one side of the universe to the other.

Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science
Dr Matthew Hill
Research: Using metal-organic frameworks to tackle climate change and efforts in assembling a national cross-disciplinary team.

Eureka Prize for Innovative Use of Technology
Monash Team of Bioactive Paper Diagnostics
Research: first equipment-free, bioactive paper-based diagnostic device for blood typing.

Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research 
Dr Rob Brander
Research: Promotion of his scientific research to a wider general audience, and his unparalleled success in doing so.

Eureka Prize for Science Journalism
Project Manta
Director-Producers: Gisela Kaufman and Carsten Orlt

Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research
Pellegrini Team
Research: IL-7 provides pathogen specific immune system boost in animals; possible cure for HIV.

Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science
Professor Suzanne Cory
Research: Passionate commitment to research and science communication.

Eureka Prize for Science or Mathematics Teaching
Geoff McNamara
Achievement: His innovative approach to teaching and creating a stimulating learning environment.

Eureka Prize for Medical Research Translation
Professor David Kaye
Research: A catheter-based system to control the level of medication at specific sites in the body.

Eureka Prize for Outstanding Science in Support of Defence or National Security
Adjunct Professor Yonggang Zhu
Research: Development of a field-deployable  chemical detector that can 'fingerprint' chemical warfare agents with high sensitivity, reliability and unprecedented speed.

Eureka Prize for Innovation in Computer Science
Associate Professor Jon McCormack, Aidan Lane, Dr Alan Dorin and Peter McIlwain
Research: Nodal; first software to successfully depict music graphically.

Eureka Prize for Outstanding Young Researcher
Dr Marie-Liesse Asselin-Labat
Research: The role of breast stem cells in cancer initiation and demonstrated that breast stem cells lack steroid hormone receptors that would allow them to be directly controlled by these hormones.

Eureka Prize for Science Photography
Photo: First Documentation of a Humpback Whale Mating
Photographer: Jason Edwards

Eureka Prize for Environmental Research
Dr Dana Cordell and Professor Stuart White
Research: Investigations that predict that without action and at current rates the world will have consumed its best supplies of phosphorus within 20 years and may exhaust them by 2050.

Eureka Prize for Commercialisation of Innovation
Research: Using supercomputing combined with high-resolution 3D scanning of oil-bearing rocks to come to the aid of the oil and gas industry.

Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize - Primary School
Ignatius Fox, Oyster Bay Public School
Project: Egg-normous - a short film about his research on what causes variation in the size of chicken eggs.

Sleek Geeks Science Eureka Prize - Secondary School
Brandon Gifford, Casino High School
Project: Insightful narration and entertaining footage of the lace monitor's three extraordinary layers of skin and scales.

Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers
Professor Douglas Hilton
Research: Mentored and devised programs that have nurtured the next generation of Australian scientists to leadership positions.

Eureka Prize for Scientific Research that Contributes to Animal Protection
Professor Clive Phillips
Research: Providing scientific evidence to support government and community management of animal welfare.