It’s not every day that the citizens of London get the opportunity to stare down a polar bear, or get a glimpse under Antarctic sea ice, but the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the London Natural History Museum allows them to do just that.
Subjects range from the tiniest insects to giraffes roaming the grasslands and showcases a wide range of wildlife across the planet.
“The big buzz” taken by Karine Aigner was the winning photo in the adult category. Karine, a professional photographer, was on a ranch in Texas when she stopped to investigate what she thought was a field of ant hills. The field turned out to be filled with bee boroughs (underground nests), and Karine knew she had to try and photograph the insects.
The bees she photographed are males wrapped tightly around one another with a single female in the middle. Seconds after the photo was taken the bees dispersed with a single male flying away with the female to mate.
A visitor to the exhibition commented about the winning photo, “It’s so interesting the way it’s magnified, it makes these tiny creatures look incredible close up”.
It was Karine’s first win in the competition, and she is only the fifth woman ever to take the main title.
The competition began in 1965 as a magazine photo contest for BBC Wildlife Magazine (called Animals at the time) and has since evolved into a huge contest that is developed and produced by the London Natural History Museum and receives around 45,000 submissions each year.
The young winner this year was 16-year-old Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn from Thailand who won with a photo he submitted of a Bryde whale leaping out of the water to catch fish in its spiny baleen of its mouth.
Katanyou took the photo while on a whale-watching tour in Thailand and struggled to keep the animal in frame due to the movement of the boat. However, he has been a photographer since he was twelve, and managed to secure the award-winning shot.
Many other photos accompanied the main title-winners, including shots of birds, sea creatures, and rare animals.
The competition and display of the photos aim to showcase how closely humans can affect the animal world, and to encourage people to think about their impact on the environment. Many of the captions detail how climate change has harmed the place or animals depicted in the photo.
Some photos gave visitors a new perspective on animals. One spectator commented on a photo of a group of geese peering curiously at the camera: “There’s just something about them that makes you think that they’re thinking human thoughts.”
The 59th annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is over, but all the winning photographs can be seen at the London Natural History Museum’s exhibition which runs until July 2nd, 2023, and the photographs can be seen at other locations as they tour around the UK.
Featured image by Dmitry Kokh – all images courtesy of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition