The winners of the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competitors have been revealed Tuesday, with the top rated prize going to French underwater photographer and biologist Laurent Ballesta for his “extraordinary” photo of the mating ritual of camouflage groupers. In the ’10 Years and Under’ category, the top rated prize went to Vidyun R Hebbar of Bengaluru for his spectacular photo of a tent spider.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is created and made by the Natural History Museum, London. This year, the competitors received entries from 95 nations. Selected from more than 50,000 entries from about the world, the winning image by Mr Ballesta captures the uncommon sight of “camouflage groupers exiting their milky cloud of eggs and sperm in Fakarava, French Polynesia”, the competitors mentioned in a statement.
To capture the image, titled Creation, Laurent Ballesta and his group returned to a lagoon each and every year for 5 years, diving day and evening so as not to miss the annual spawning. The mating ritual happens only about the complete moon in July.
“The image works on so many levels. It is surprising, energetic, and intriguing and has an otherworldly beauty. It also captures a magical moment – a truly explosive creation of life – leaving the tail-end of the exodus of eggs hanging for a moment like a symbolic question mark,” mentioned Chair of the judging panel, Rosamund Kidman Cox.
Vidyun R Hebbar, a 10-year-old from Bengaluru, was awarded the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 for his image, Dome home. The image features a tent spider that the young photographer spotted in his regional theme park, exactly where a passing autorickshaw supplied a colourful backdrop.
“Tent spiders build the most amazing and detailed webs, it’s a real treat watching them. I love macro photography, because you don’t need to go on a safari to find subjects, you find your subjects in your back yard!” Mr Hebbar mentioned.
“The jury loved this photo from the beginning of the judging process. It is a great reminder to look more closely at the small animals we live with every day, and to take your camera with you everywhere,” mentioned Dr Natalie Cooper, a researcher with the Natural History Museum and jury member.
In the ‘Animals in their Environment’ category, the prize went to Grizzly leftovers by Zack Clothier.
Adam Oswell wins the Photojournalism award for his image of an elephant performing underwater for zoo guests in Thailand.
Bedazzled by Alex Mustard was the winner in the Natural Artistry category. The image shows a ghost pipefish hiding amongst the arms of a feather star.
The Photojournalist Story Award was offered to Brent Stirton. His image shows the director of a rehabilitation centre in South Africa sitting with a rescue chimpanzee, introducing it to other chimps.
A mountain gorilla closes its eyes in the rain in this image for which photographer Majed Ali trekked for more than 4 hours. The image won in the Animal Portraits category.
Head to head by Stefano Unterthiner was the winner in ‘Behaviour: Animals’. The image shows two Svalbard reindeer battle for manage of a harem.
The Urban Wildlife Award went to The spider area by Gil Wizen. Gil discovered a venomous spider hiding beneath his bed. He photographed the human-hand-sized Brazilian wandering spider working with forced point of view to make it seem even bigger.
Where the giant newts breed by Joao Rodrigues won in the Behaviour: Amphibians and Reptiles category.
These and other winning photographs will be displayed at the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at London’s Natural History Museum, which opens on Friday, October 15.