- Jonathan amos
- BBC Science Journalist
Looks like an underwater explosion. Various fish (Epinephelus polyphekadion) rush to release their sperm as a female releases an explosion of eggs.
This image taken on the Fakarava Atoll in the Pacific earned Frenchman Laurent Ballesta the title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY).
Jury president Roz Kidman Cox said it was a technical feat.
“It’s part of the setting, (the image was) taken during a full moon, but also the timing, knowing when to take the picture.”
The annual spawning of Epinephelus polyphekadion arrives in July. It is known to herd up to 20,000 fish, as well as numerous reef sharks in search of a meal.
Overfishing threatens specimens of this species, but this image was taken in a reserve which offers them some protection.
“We spent five years in this place, 3000 hours of diving, to capture this special moment,” says Laurent.
“I am drawn to this image because of the shape of the cloud of eggs: it looks like an upside down question mark. This is a question about the future of these eggs because only one in a million will become (survive) to adulthood, but it is perhaps more symbolic, about the future of nature. This is a very important question about the future of nature.
In addition to winning the first WPY prize, the French photographer also won the Underwater category of the competition.
Vidyun R Hebbar, 10, from India, is the Junior Wildlife Photographer of the Year for this photo of a spider (Cyrtophora citricola) on your website. The image is called Reception dome.
The green and yellow blur in the background belongs to a tuk-tuk, that three-wheeled taxi.
“The focus is precisely sharp,” Roz Kidman Cox told BBC News.
“You can actually see the little fangs if you zoom in on the image. I love the way it’s framed and how you can see all the texture of the web, its interwoven structure.
Vidyun, in turn, recalled, “It was a challenge to focus on the spider because the web shook every time a vehicle passed.”
Launched in 1964, WPY is organized by the Natural History Museum in London, UK. The competition attracts tens of thousands of entries each year.
Another spider photo was featured prominently in the award as well. The image was called “The Spider’s Room”.
After noticing small spiders all over the room, photographer Gil Wizen looked under the bed. There, guarding its brood, was a large poisonous spider. Before leaving the stage, Wizen photographed the spider, which was the size of a human hand, using perspective to make it appear even larger.
Below, check out some of the winners of the individual categories.
“Elephant in the room”, by Adam Oswell, Australia
Adam Oswell won the photojournalism award for this photo, which shows visitors to a zoo in Thailand watching a young elephant perform underwater. Elephant tourism has increased across Asia. In Thailand, there are now more elephants in captivity than in the wild.
Brent Stirton received the History Photojournalist Award. His images show a rehabilitation center that takes care of chimpanzees orphaned by the bushmeat trade in Africa. The director of the center presents a newly rescued chimpanzee to other people in her care.
“Face to face”, by Stefano Unterthiner, Italy
The WPY always has great photos of snow, and this one won in the Behavior: Mammals category. Stefano Unterthiner observed two reindeer from Svalbard, in the Norwegian Arctic, fighting for control of a harem. As a spectator, Stefano said he felt immersed “in the smell, the noise, the fatigue and the pain”.
“Reflection” by Majed Ali, Kuwait
Majed Ali walked for four hours to meet Kibande, an almost 40-year-old mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in southwestern Uganda. “The higher we went, the hotter and more humid it was,” recalls Majed. This photo, which shows Kibande as a refreshing rain begins to fall, won the Animal Portraits category.
“Road to Ruin”, by Javier Lafuente, Spain
Javier Lafuente’s photo shows the straight line of a road cutting the curves of a marshy landscape that is home to over a hundred species of birds, with ospreys and bee-eaters among many migrating visitors. The road, built in the 1980s to provide access to a beach, divides the marsh in two. The image won in the Marais category: General panorama.
“Spinning the cradle”, by Gil Wizen, Israel / Canada
Gil Wizen is an entomologist and specialist photographer. This dolomede spider produces silk through its spinners to weave its egg sack. These spiders are common in the swamps and temperate forests of eastern North America. The image won in the Behavior: Invertebrates category.
The London Natural History Museum’s annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit opens this Friday (10/15).
The show will then tour the UK and will also be exhibited internationally in countries such as Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, USA, among others.
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