Grouper fish spawning, two reindeer battling for control of a harem, an underwater elephant and a 40-year-old mountain gorilla soaked by the rain are among the winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards
- Laurent Ballesta won this year’s competition with an underwater image of camouflage grouper fish exiting their cloud of eggs and sperm
- Taken in Fakarava, French Polynesia, Mr Ballesta and his team returned to a lagoon day and night over five years so they wouldn’t miss the annual spawning that takes place on a full moon in July
- Over 50,000 entries from 95 countries were in the running and the winners were announced at a virtual awards ceremony at London’s Natural History Museum
- Other winning images included two reindeer battling for control of a harem, a mountain gorilla, eyes closed, in the rain and an elephant in a tank of water
A French biologist and underwater photographer has been named as this year’s Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year with his captivating image of fish spawning.
Laurent Ballesta was selected as the winner of the competition following the submission of his ‘enigmatic image’ Creation, which captures camouflage groupers exiting their milky cloud of eggs and sperm in Fakarava, French Polynesia.
Over the past five years, Mr Ballesta and his team returned to the lagoon many times, diving day and night so they did not miss the annual spawning that only takes place around the full moon in July.
Ballesta’s photo shows a trio of camouflage groupers exit their milky cloud of eggs and sperm, winning him the Grand Title Winner award at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards 2021
His image was selected out of more than 50,000 entries from 95 countries, and named the winner at a virtual awards ceremony at the Natural History Museum in central London.
Chairwoman of the judging panel, writer and editor Rosamund ‘Roz’ Kidman Cox, said: ‘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.’
‘Elephant in the room’ by Adam Oswel pictures the earth’s largest land mammal performing underwater in Australia, winning him the Photojournalism Award
A fishing spider stretching out silk from its spinnerets to weave into its egg sac in Canada, which won photographer Gil Wizen the Behaviour: Invertebrate Award
Shayne Kalyn won the Behaviour: Birds award for his photo capturing two ravens in an intimate exchange as their thick black beaks touch in Canada
Vidyun R Hebbar was named Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 for his colourful image of a tent spider with its web, as a colourful rickshaw or tuk-tuk passes behind in India
Meanwhile, Vidyun R Hebbar was named Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 at the ceremony.
The winner, who is only 10-year-old, took the colourful image titled ‘Dome home’ in India and shows a tent spider within its web as a tuk-tuk passes in the background.
The two winners were chosen from 19 categories in total which aim to celebrate the natural world.
Three new categories were introduced this year, including Oceans – The Bigger Picture and Wetlands – The Bigger Picture.
Amongst the category winners this year was Angel Fitor, bagging the Portfolio Award for his picture ‘Face Off’, showing two adult male cichlid fish fighting jaw to jaw over a snail shell in Lake Tanganyika in Africa.
Adam Oswel was given the Photojournalism Award for his picture of an elephant performing in a tank in front of an audience in Australia.
A total of 100 images from the competition will be on display at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum on October 15 before touring across the UK and internationally.
Kibande, an almost-40-year-old mountain gorilla closes its eyes in the rain in Uganda. This picture by Majed Ali won him the Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Animal Portraits Award
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