Macus Ong is a Runner Up for the BBC Wildlife Magazine Competition

Macus Ong strives to teach others about our environment through his photos. While working on his Applied Research Project for his MSc in Ecological Restoration, Macus photographed a stunning cormorant. He entered his photo in the BBC Wildlife Magazine and was awarded Runner Up in the November issue.

What were you doing when you took your award winning photo?  

We were on a trip to Gabriola Island to install remote GoPro camera on the seacliff for my MSc research project. This GoPro camera will observe and monitor the Double-crested Cormorants (DCCO) during their breeding season throughout the summer. This DCCO was observed perching on a dead tree branch grooming herself, in which the early afternoon lighting from the canopy leave foliage shines on the cormorant, allowing me to compose the shot and juxtaposed with light.

How long have you been a photographer? What motivates you to take great photos? 

It has been an 11-year journey since I started photography when I was doing my BSc in 2009. Growing up learning drawing and painting, I learned how to appreciate small details with a keen eye because I believe imageries leave stark impacts on people regardless their academic backgrounds. Further, I grew up with environmentalism, such as being an environmental cadet in my high school years, shaping my views on the environment. Apart from that, I aspired to be many of the great conservation photographers who educate and speak science through imageries like our resident photographer in BC, Paul Nicklen, as well as David Attenborough and Jane Goodall. Educating and speaking science with imageries has always been my motivation.

The photo shows a GoPro that is deployed remotely on Gabriola Island seacliff. The GoPro is designed to be rugged and work in harsh weather for remote monitoring.

Photo by Marine Randon

Can you describe your applied research project? What do you hope to find out?

This research combines photogrammetry sampling with traditional field observation to seek understanding of DCCO’s nesting behavior, especially in urban bridge settings, to help inform the public and the city management about the significance of conserving them and at the same time devise proper bridge management that does not exclude the birds during their breeding season. It aims to find out the behavior and success of DCCO during their breeding season in multiple location settings in Vancouver. Due to anthropogenic disturbances, there is a shift in their nesting behavior from the natural rock and islands colonies to urban colonies where they are building nests under Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing bridge, Granville Bridge, and Burrard Bridge.

 Do you have another favourite photo that you can share from your Applied Research Project?  

I do have several photos that have become my favorite, for example a DCCO juvenile, Second Narrows Bridge, as well as many that I have taken throughout my sampling.

All these opportunites would not come to a fruitful yield without many who support throughout the research project, mentally and educationally, such as Ruth Joy, Trudy Chatwin, Greg McClelland, Jenna Craig, Sean, as well as many who helped along.

Below are several of Macus Ong's photos from his project. For more of Macus's photos, follow his instagram account.