Exploration

Wildlife Photographer of the Year announced

WRITTEN BY Oceanographic Staff

French biologist Laurent Ballesta won the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Grand Prize award with his image of groupers in a cloud of eggs and sperm in French Polynesia’s Fakarava.

Getting over 50,000 entries from 95 countries, the Natural History Museum‘s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is one of the biggest of its kind. On 12 October, this year’s winners were revealed through an online awards ceremony. While topside photography played a big part, the 57th Grand Prize was awarded to Blancpain-backed underwater photographer and biologist Laurent Ballesta and his impressive image which is titled ‘Creation’. It shows groupers during an annual spawning event in French Polynesia. For five years, Laurent and his team returned to the special event that only takes place around the full moon in July to capture it with their cameras. After dark, they were joined by hundreds of grey reef sharks which hunted the groupers in packs.

Dr Doug Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum said: “This year’s Grand Title winner reveals a hidden underwater world, a fleeting moment of fascinating animal behaviour that very few have witnessed. In what could be a pivotal year for the planet, with vital discussions taking place at COP15 and COP26, Laurent Ballesta’s Creation is a compelling reminder of what we stand to lose if we do not address humanity’s impact on our planet. The protection provided to this endangered species by the biosphere reserve highlights the positive difference we can make.”

Chair of the judging panel, writer and editor, Rosamund ‘Roz’ Kidman Cox OBE 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.”

The Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 was awarded to ten-year-old Vidyun R Hebbar for his image of a tent spider, called ‘Dome home’.

If you’re interested in visiting the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London, it opened on Friday, 15 October and will run until 5 June 2022. It will also tour across the UK and to international venues in Australia, Denmark, Germany, the US and many more.

For more winning images and further information on the awards and the exhibition, click here.

For more from our Ocean Newsroom, click here.

Photography courtesy of the Natural History Museum, in relation to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

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