It’s that time of year again – London’s Natural History Museum is getting ready to announce the winner of its Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards, and we can reveal to you, dear readers, some of the extremely talented finalists.
As ever, these awards demonstrate that nature is capable of producing some remarkable biological constructs, from the extremely large to the adorably small. So, from this point on, we’ll let the absolutely breathtaking images do the talking themselves.
Lead image: Bear Hug, by Ashleigh Scully from the USA/Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Taken in Alaska’s Lake Clark National Park, this family of brown bears were making their way back from fishing for clams at low tide – but one little cub decided it wanted to try and wrestle its mother to the ground. It didn’t succeed, but it gave it a good shot.
Snapped near the photographer’s home in Southern Sweden on a cold February morning, this red squirrel was seen to take on this meditative pose for just a moment before continuing its search for food.
This Arctic fox is seen here looking for an appropriate burial spot for its bounty – a goose egg. Taken in the Russian Far East on Wrangel Island, the photographer explains that lemmings are the food of choice for these crafty creatures. However, for a few days, geese from across the world land here to breed, which gives these foxes a second, delicious dietary option.
This photographer spends a lot of time on Amaknak Island in Alaska snapping shots of these incredible birds. He spends so much time there that individual eagles trust him more than others – and this particularly bird got so close that it was practically towering over him.
A truly adventurous photographer that has a huge portfolio of shots depicting life beneath Antarctica, this particular shot is clearly one of his best to date. These Weddell Seals are a mother and pup pair, and it’s likely that the pup has only recently been introduced to the ice. Either way, they were unbothered by Ballesta’s presence. “They looked so at ease, where I felt so inappropriate,” he explains.
Can you spot the hidden organisms in the picture? Concealed within the mouths of these anemonefish, swimming in the Lembeh Strait in Indonesia, are several parasitic isopods. These sneaky vampires sneak into the mouths of the fish as larvae, via its gills. They then consume the blood from the tongue, causing it to die, before they literally take its place.
Seahorses are known to hop from floating object to floating object in order to be carried along with the sea current more effectively. As this shot taken in a reef off Sumbawa Island in Indonesia clearly shows, plenty of those objects are nowadays far from natural.
The Iberian lynx is an endangered wild cat, one that’s as rare as it is elusive. Capturing one on camera is an incredibly difficult task, but with enough patience, one can manage it, as this photograph clearly demonstrates. This one was spotted in the Sierra de Andujar Natural Park in southern Spain, and as the photographer explains, these lynxes “weren’t scared of people – they simply ignored us.”
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London. The winners will be announced on Tuesday, October 17, and the exhibition at the Natural History Museum will open to the public on Friday, October 20.