The winners of the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition have been announced – and the images are quite simply breathtaking.
French underwater photographer and biologist Laurent Ballesta’s shot of a rare underwater spawning that only takes place around a full moon once a year has been named as the overall winner.
Here are some more of the winning images from this year’s competition, which will be exhibited at the Natural History Museum, London, from Friday (October 15).
5. Winner, Portfolio Award - Face-off, from Cichlids of Planet Tanganyika by Angel Fitor
Angel Fitor (Spain) provides an intimate look into the lives of cichlid fishes in Lake Tanganyika. Two male cichlid fish fight jaw to jaw over a snail shell. Inside the half-buried shell is a female ready to lay eggs. For three weeks Angel monitored the lake bed looking for such disputes. The biting and pushing lasts until the weaker fish gives way. This struggle was over in seconds but lasted just long enough for Angel to get his winning shot.
Photo: Angel M.Fitor-www.seaframes.com
6. Winner, Photojournalist Story Award - The healing touch, from community care by Brent Stirton
Brent Stirton (South Africa) profiles a rehabilitation centre caring for chimpanzees orphaned by the bushmeat trade. The director of the centre sits with a newly rescued chimp as she slowly introduces it to the others. Young chimps are given one-to-one care to ease their psychological and physical trauma. These chimps are lucky. Less than one in ten are rescued after having seen the adults in their group killed for meat. Most have experienced starvation and suffering.
Photo: Brent Stirton
7. Winner, Urban Wildlife - The spider room by Gil Wizen
Gil Wizen (Israel/Canada) finds a venomous Brazilian wandering spider hiding under his bed. After noticing tiny spiders all over his bedroom, Gil looked under his bed. There, guarding its brood, was one of the world’s most venomous spiders. Before safely relocating it outdoors, he photographed the human-hand-sized Brazilian wandering spider using forced perspective to make it appear even larger. Brazilian wandering spiders roam forest floors at night in search of prey such as frogs and cockroaches. Their toxic venom can be deadly to mammals including humans, but it also has medicinal uses.
Photo: Gil Wizen
8. Winner, Underwater - Creation by Laurent Ballesta
Laurent Ballesta (France) peers into the depths as a trio of camouflage groupers exit their milky cloud of eggs and sperm. For five years Laurent and his team returned to this lagoon, diving day and night to see the annual spawning of camouflage groupers. They were joined after dark by reef sharks hunting the fish. Spawning happens around the full moon in July, when up to 20,000 fish gather in Fakarava in a narrow southern channel linking the lagoon with the ocean.
Photo: Laurent Ballesta