A STRIKING image of a dolphin surfing in the waves has claimed the top prize in the British Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
The dolphin’s-eye view was captured off the coast of Northern Ireland by George Karbus, from County Clare, Ireland, who swam in the surf with the marine mammal to get the winning image and secure the £5,000 prize.
Three Scottish photographers were also among the winners, with Margaret Walker, from Inverness, taking the Habitat category for her picture entitled Red Deer Stags Enduring Blizzard.
Liz Musser, from Fair Isle, Shetland, won Wildlife in HD Video for her film Henry and the waxwings, while Tomasz Garbacz, from Dundee, took home the British Season accolade for his series of images entitled ptarmigan.
Mr Karbus said: “I encountered this playful dolphin that suddenly started to surf the deep tube inside the waves. Each time the dolphin got into the wave, I dived underneath, held my breath and waited for the moment when he would swish through a silver barrel close enough to my lens.
“Water visibility is always very limited in Ireland and I was very lucky to get a shot like this.”
Striking images of a badger among trees, a deer in a housing estate, a grey wagtail fighting its reflection in a car wing mirror and close-ups of woodland fungus and a tiny snail on a fern were among the other winners in the competition.
The judges selected winners for 12 categories which aim to highlight the wealth of nature in the UK, including a wildlife video and a documentary series of pictures which was won with a photo essay on vaccinating badgers for TB as an alternative to culling. Mr Karbus’s dolphin picture won the coast and marine category and also scooped the prize of overall winner.
Prizes were also awarded for two junior categories, with eight-year-old Liam Constantine, from Hull, East Yorkshire, winning the award for a photograph by a youngster under 12, for his picture of a brown hare.
Joseph Amess, 15, from Steyning, West Sussex, scooped the award in the 12-18-year-old category for his image of a great tit in flight.
Chris Packham, naturalist and TV presenter, said: “These stunning images by so many talented photographers highlight the diversity, breadth and beauty of our precious wildlife and the need to protect their habitats.
“From blue tits to badgers, never has British wildlife looked more beautiful.”
A book showcasing the best of this year’s entries is also being published, and an exhibition of 100 images and video launches at the Mall Galleries, London before touring England.