Capturing Ecology Launch

Ulster Museum hosts exhibition of winning images from international ecological photographic competition

An extraordinary exhibition which features the winning photographs in this year’s British Ecological Society’s (BES) photography competition opens in the Ulster Museum on 11 February. The images will be part of a wider exhibition including videos of macro insects, 360 degree drone footage over rainforest and palm oil plantations, and thermal drone imaging of animals in rainforest and savannah environments.

Capturing Ecology: Hidden Worlds exhibition focuses on the parts of the natural world that we do not normally engage with - because we simply do not realise what is right before our eyes, or because special techniques and technology are needed to observe them. Featuring the winning images and an additional 15 highly commended images, taken by international ecologists and students, the photographs on display celebrate the diversity of ecology. Subjects range from the hypnotic textures of a birch forest, to a three-toed sloth making its way across a road, to a Southern white rhinoceros receiving its annual horn trimming to help protect it from poachers.

Aaron Ward, Head of Audience Development for National Museums NI, says the display, located in the museum’s atrium, is a first for the Ulster Museum.

“We are really excited to be working in partnership with the British Ecological Society on the Capturing Ecology: Hidden Worlds exhibition.  The exhibition itself will not only focus on the amazing images which the winning ecologists have captured but will give visitors, young and old, an immersive, sensory experience exploring the hidden worlds of wildlife in different environments.

National Museums NI is keen to offer a platform for engagement and debate on wider environment issues which are becoming more and more important across the globe.  This exhibition gives us a great opportunity to do this, as well as allowing visitors to explore how we humans interact with the natural world and how we all can help preserve and protect nature.”

During the 6-week run of the exhibition, visitors can engage with some of the technology that professional ecologists use in their work such as an infrared camera that will capture their heat signature, a high-powered microscope that will let them get up close to specimens, and a darkened booth where a blacklight will reveal the world hidden in different spectrums of light. Visitors will also be able to add their thoughts to a ‘web’ of connections between the human world and nature, which will expand throughout the run of the exhibition.

Dr Christopher Jeffs, Education & Engagement Manager for BES, says: “Understanding how our natural world works will become ever more important in our changing world. Ecologists around the globe are therefore working hard to provide solutions to the world's greatest environmental challenges.

In partnership with National Museums NI, our spectacular images can now show everyone how the science of ecology helps reveal the hidden complexity of life around us, how interconnected we are to it, and ultimately what each one of us can do to protect it.

Within the exhibition you'll also get hands on with some of the most cutting edge methods in ecology, from poacher-catching drones to beetle-tracking fluorescent powders!

The British Ecological Society is the oldest group in the world supporting ecologists and sharing the importance and excitement of their science. Together, we can create a space where ecology can ensure both people and nature can thrive.”

A programme of events and activities is planned throughout the six weeks.  This includes a range of demonstrations featuring BES’s ecologists from 11 to 14 February, in partnership with NI Science Festival, taking place in a specially created demonstrator stage in the atrium of the Ulster Museum.

Capturing Ecology: Hidden Worlds runs until 22 March.  Admission is free. For further details visit