Featured Photographers | Irene & Crispin  




Let us introduce ourselves; we are Irene and Crispin Middleton, passionate marine ecologists, divers and nature photographers based in Northern New Zealand. We have been diving for about half our lives, and we are lucky enough to spend time underwater both inside and outside of work.  We spend most of our time diving the Poor Knights Islands, an offshore volcanic island chain dubbed as one of the top 10 dive sites by the legendary Jaques Cousteau. The islands have been a marine reserve since the 1980s and support a mix of tropical, temperate and pelagic species, making it a fascinating and dynamic place to dive.

We both moved to New Zealand from Europe and are constantly in awe of what is now our homeland. We have our own little dive boat, so we chose to build our house as close to the boat ramp to the Poor Knights Islands as possible. We spent our honeymoon in a cabin on a tiny boat with six other smelly divers on a dive expedition to Rangitahua/Kermadec islands, a remote island group 1,000km northeast of New Zealand. Our favourite dive holidays have been South Australia and Tasmania in the middle of winter, and we spent half of a family trip to the UK diving in the Scottish lochs.

Irene is currently undertaking her PhD, working together with divers, anglers and spearfishers to track changes in New Zealand’s fish diversity. Her passion is the ocean and especially larval fish biology and sub-tropical vagrants. She has volunteered as a scientific diver on marine biodiversity expeditions to some of the most remote corners of the South Pacific (including Palmerston Atoll, Beveridge Reef, Niue, New Caledonia, Fiji and the Tongan archipelago).

Crispin works as a marine ecologist and leads a team of scientific divers at a major research organisation in New Zealand.  He works on several different projects, including marine biosecurity, marine ecology, and marine fisheries’ sustainability. Despite spending most of his working life in and on the water, there is no holding Crispin back from the ocean.

We tend to like exploring and photographing unusual settings and critters. For example, diving in ice-cold lakes in the middle of winter to photograph a 2,000-year-old sunken forest or getting up at 1 am to head out 20 miles offshore to photograph paper nautilus.  By spending time looking in these unusual places, we have been the first to photograph several rare species, including larval deepsea squid and fishes. We have made some scientific discoveries, including a new to science boxfish!

We currently both shoot full-frame DSLRs and are starting to dabble in videography, but capturing still images of the details of unusual macro critters, weird behaviours, and the richness of the waters around New Zealand is still our passion. We hope that our images inspire people to seek out the unusual and beautiful critters and sights in their watery back yards…. Which this year seems more important than ever.


2,000-year-old sunken forest,
Lake Waikaremoana, New Zealand

 2 1

10mm long female nautilus,
Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, New Zealand


3 1

Caldukia rubiginosa, 
Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, New Zealand



Banded kokopu feeding,
Our property, Northern New Zealand



Roboastra luteolineata on the hunt, 
Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, New Zealand


9 1

Edithburgh jetty,
South Australia


Juvenile flyingfish,
 Northern New Zealand


Giant cuttlefish,
South Australia



Giant cuttlefish,
Wyhalla, South Australia

18 1

Juvenile deepsea football octopus,
Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, New Zealand 


20 1

Juvenile yellowtail kingfish,
Northern New Zealand


Juvenile deepsea football octopus, 
Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, New Zealand



Roboastra luteolineata,
Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve, New Zealand


Crispin checks out a juvenile flyingfish,
Poor Knights Marine Reserve, New Zealand



Whip corals and invertebrates,
Bicheno, Tasmania, Australia



Find Irene & Crispin on Instagram @seacologynz

If you'd like to see your underwater photography published on these pages and shared across our social media feed and weekly newsletter, why not drop us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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