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First glimpse at the fantastic finalists in the 2019 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

First glimpse at the fantastic...
"Big cat and dog spat" by Peter Haygarth, UK. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Mammals. In a rare encounter, a lone male cheetah is set upon by a pack of African wild dogs. (Both species have disappeared from much of their former ranges, with fewer than 7,000 left of each, mainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Both exist at low densities.) Peter had been following the dogs by vehicle as they hunted in Zimanga Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A warthog had just escaped the pack when the leading dogs came across the big cat. At first, the dogs were wary, but as the rest of the 12-strong pack arrived, their confidence grew, and they began to encircle the cat, chirping with excitement. The elderly cheetah hissed and lunged back at the mob, his left ear tattered, the right one pinned back in the ruckus. As dust flew in the morning light, Peter kept his focus on the cat’s face. In a few minutes the spat was over as the cheetah fled.
"Big cat and dog spat" by Peter Haygarth, UK. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Mammals. In a rare encounter, a lone male cheetah is set upon by a pack of African wild dogs. (Both species have disappeared from much of their former ranges, with fewer than 7,000 left of each, mainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Both exist at low densities.) Peter had been following the dogs by vehicle as they hunted in Zimanga Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A warthog had just escaped the pack when the leading dogs came across the big cat. At first, the dogs were wary, but as the rest of the 12-strong pack arrived, their confidence grew, and they began to encircle the cat, chirping with excitement. The elderly cheetah hissed and lunged back at the mob, his left ear tattered, the right one pinned back in the ruckus. As dust flew in the morning light, Peter kept his focus on the cat’s face. In a few minutes the spat was over as the cheetah fled.
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"Big cat and dog spat" by Peter Haygarth, UK. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Mammals. In a rare encounter, a lone male cheetah is set upon by a pack of African wild dogs. (Both species have disappeared from much of their former ranges, with fewer than 7,000 left of each, mainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Both exist at low densities.) Peter had been following the dogs by vehicle as they hunted in Zimanga Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A warthog had just escaped the pack when the leading dogs came across the big cat. At first, the dogs were wary, but as the rest of the 12-strong pack arrived, their confidence grew, and they began to encircle the cat, chirping with excitement. The elderly cheetah hissed and lunged back at the mob, his left ear tattered, the right one pinned back in the ruckus. As dust flew in the morning light, Peter kept his focus on the cat’s face. In a few minutes the spat was over as the cheetah fled.
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"Big cat and dog spat" by Peter Haygarth, UK. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Mammals. In a rare encounter, a lone male cheetah is set upon by a pack of African wild dogs. (Both species have disappeared from much of their former ranges, with fewer than 7,000 left of each, mainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Both exist at low densities.) Peter had been following the dogs by vehicle as they hunted in Zimanga Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A warthog had just escaped the pack when the leading dogs came across the big cat. At first, the dogs were wary, but as the rest of the 12-strong pack arrived, their confidence grew, and they began to encircle the cat, chirping with excitement. The elderly cheetah hissed and lunged back at the mob, his left ear tattered, the right one pinned back in the ruckus. As dust flew in the morning light, Peter kept his focus on the cat’s face. In a few minutes the spat was over as the cheetah fled.
"Sleeping like a Weddell" by Ralf Schneider. Highly Commended 2019, Black and White. Hugging its flippers tight to its body, the Weddell seal closed its eyes and appeared to fall into a deep sleep. Lying on fast ice (ice attached to land) off Larsen Harbour, South Georgia, it was relatively safe from its predators – killer whales and leopard seals – and so could completely relax and digest.
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"Sleeping like a Weddell" by Ralf Schneider. Highly Commended 2019, Black and White. Hugging its flippers tight to its body, the Weddell seal closed its eyes and appeared to fall into a deep sleep. Lying on fast ice (ice attached to land) off Larsen Harbour, South Georgia, it was relatively safe from its predators – killer whales and leopard seals – and so could completely relax and digest.
"Lucky break" by Jason Bantle, Canada. Highly Commended 2019, Urban Wildlife. An ever-adaptable raccoon pokes her bandit-masked face out of a 1970s Ford Pinto on a deserted farm in Saskatchewan, Canada.
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"Lucky break" by Jason Bantle, Canada. Highly Commended 2019, Urban Wildlife. An ever-adaptable raccoon pokes her bandit-masked face out of a 1970s Ford Pinto on a deserted farm in Saskatchewan, Canada.
"Cool drink" by Diana Rebman, USA. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Birds. On a bitterly cold morning on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, Diana came across a delightful scene. A flock of long-tailed tits and marsh tits were gathered around a long icicle hanging from a branch, taking turns to nibble the tip. Here, a Hokkaido long-tailed tit hovers for a split second to take its turn to nip off a beakful. If the sun came out and a drop of water formed, the tit next ‘in line’ would sip rather than nip. The rotation of activity was so fast-moving that it almost seemed choreographed. Two days later, Diana returned and found that, with temperatures still at -20°C (-4°F), the icicle remained and tits were still drinking from it. But when the sun came out and the ice began to melt, one long‑tailed tit chose to cling to the icicle instead of hovering. That instantly brought the performance to an end, as the icicle cracked and then crashed to the ground.
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"Cool drink" by Diana Rebman, USA. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Birds. On a bitterly cold morning on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, Diana came across a delightful scene. A flock of long-tailed tits and marsh tits were gathered around a long icicle hanging from a branch, taking turns to nibble the tip. Here, a Hokkaido long-tailed tit hovers for a split second to take its turn to nip off a beakful. If the sun came out and a drop of water formed, the tit next ‘in line’ would sip rather than nip. The rotation of activity was so fast-moving that it almost seemed choreographed. Two days later, Diana returned and found that, with temperatures still at -20°C (-4°F), the icicle remained and tits were still drinking from it. But when the sun came out and the ice began to melt, one long‑tailed tit chose to cling to the icicle instead of hovering. That instantly brought the performance to an end, as the icicle cracked and then crashed to the ground.
"Canopy hangout" by Carlos Pérez Naval, Spain. Highly Commended 2019, Young Wildlife Photographers: 11-14 years old. When Carlos’s family planned a trip to Panama’s Soberanía National Park, sloths were high on their must-see agenda. They were not disappointed. For several days, from the observation deck of the park’s canopy tower, Carlos could photograph not only birds but also this brown-throated three-toed sloth – the orange fur and the dark stripe on its back marking it as an adult male. It hung out in a cecropia tree, resting but occasionally moving, slowly, along a branch to reach new leaves. On this morning, with the forest cloaked in fog and the sloth on the move, Carlos decided on a new composition. Climbing down, he shot from a lower level but at an angle that would still show the sloth’s key features – its three hooked claws clamped to the branch, its characteristic mask-like eye-stripe and its long, coarse fur. But by deliberately placing it in one part of the frame, he also captured the atmosphere of the forest – ‘the sloth in its environment’.
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"Canopy hangout" by Carlos Pérez Naval, Spain. Highly Commended 2019, Young Wildlife Photographers: 11-14 years old. When Carlos’s family planned a trip to Panama’s Soberanía National Park, sloths were high on their must-see agenda. They were not disappointed. For several days, from the observation deck of the park’s canopy tower, Carlos could photograph not only birds but also this brown-throated three-toed sloth – the orange fur and the dark stripe on its back marking it as an adult male. It hung out in a cecropia tree, resting but occasionally moving, slowly, along a branch to reach new leaves. On this morning, with the forest cloaked in fog and the sloth on the move, Carlos decided on a new composition. Climbing down, he shot from a lower level but at an angle that would still show the sloth’s key features – its three hooked claws clamped to the branch, its characteristic mask-like eye-stripe and its long, coarse fur. But by deliberately placing it in one part of the frame, he also captured the atmosphere of the forest – ‘the sloth in its environment’.
"The hair-net cocoon" by Minghui Yuan, China. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Invertebrates. Standing side-on to the wall of the WC, his face and camera pressed against it, Minghui focused on the remarkable cocoon of a Cyna moth pupa. A more typical location would be a tree trunk or rock, as in the rainforest of Xishuangbanna, southwest China, where he had just been filming. But this caterpillar had chosen a wall. It had used its long, hair-like setae to weave the delicate cocoon cage, held with silk and just 4 centimetres (11/2 inches) long, inside which it would pupate. The cage must provide protection against some predators but probably not against the wasps that parasitize it. Once in its cage, the caterpillar spits out silk, spinning almost invisible threads to suspend itself, head first from the cage while it turns into a pupa. The cage has an aperture at either end, through which the caterpillar expels its outer layer after its final moult and then – once it has reorganized its body – emerges from the top as a beautiful white moth, decorated in red and black.
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"The hair-net cocoon" by Minghui Yuan, China. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Invertebrates. Standing side-on to the wall of the WC, his face and camera pressed against it, Minghui focused on the remarkable cocoon of a Cyna moth pupa. A more typical location would be a tree trunk or rock, as in the rainforest of Xishuangbanna, southwest China, where he had just been filming. But this caterpillar had chosen a wall. It had used its long, hair-like setae to weave the delicate cocoon cage, held with silk and just 4 centimetres (11/2 inches) long, inside which it would pupate. The cage must provide protection against some predators but probably not against the wasps that parasitize it. Once in its cage, the caterpillar spits out silk, spinning almost invisible threads to suspend itself, head first from the cage while it turns into a pupa. The cage has an aperture at either end, through which the caterpillar expels its outer layer after its final moult and then – once it has reorganized its body – emerges from the top as a beautiful white moth, decorated in red and black.
"Last gasp" by Adrian Hirschi, Switzerland. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Mammals. A newborn hippo, just days old, was keeping close to its mother in the shallows of Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe, when a large bull suddenly made a beeline for them. He chased the mother, then seized the calf in his huge gape, clearly intent on killing it. After trying to drown it, he tried to crush it to death. All the while, the distraught mother looked on. Adrian’s fast reaction and fast exposure captured the shocking drama. Infanticide among hippos is rare but may result from the stress caused through overcrowding when their day-resting pools dry out. A male may also increase his reproductive chances by killing young that are not his, triggering females to go into oestrus, ready to mate with him. Male hippos are also aggressively territorial, and brutal fights are not uncommon. If they feel threatened by an accidental encounter, hippos will also attack and kill humans.
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"Last gasp" by Adrian Hirschi, Switzerland. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Mammals. A newborn hippo, just days old, was keeping close to its mother in the shallows of Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe, when a large bull suddenly made a beeline for them. He chased the mother, then seized the calf in his huge gape, clearly intent on killing it. After trying to drown it, he tried to crush it to death. All the while, the distraught mother looked on. Adrian’s fast reaction and fast exposure captured the shocking drama. Infanticide among hippos is rare but may result from the stress caused through overcrowding when their day-resting pools dry out. A male may also increase his reproductive chances by killing young that are not his, triggering females to go into oestrus, ready to mate with him. Male hippos are also aggressively territorial, and brutal fights are not uncommon. If they feel threatened by an accidental encounter, hippos will also attack and kill humans.
"If penguins could fly" by Eduardo Del Álamo, Spain. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Mammals. A gentoo penguin – the fastest underwater swimmer of all penguins – flees for its life as a leopard seal bursts out of the water.
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"If penguins could fly" by Eduardo Del Álamo, Spain. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Mammals. A gentoo penguin – the fastest underwater swimmer of all penguins – flees for its life as a leopard seal bursts out of the water.
"The freshwater forest" by Michel Roggo, Switzerland. Highly Commended 2019, Plants and Fungi. Slender stems of Eurasian watermilfoil, bearing whorls of soft, feathery leaves, reach for the sky from the bed of Lake Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Michel has photographed freshwater regions worldwide, but this was the first time he had dived in the lake nearest to his home. He was swimming near the surface – absorbed with the beauty of the plants and their small reddish flowers – when he spotted a huge pike disappearing into the mass of vegetation below. Very slowly, he sank down for a closer look. When he reached the bottom, he found himself immersed in an ‘underwater jungle with an endless view’. Watermilfoil is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa but has spread worldwide. It can grow from fragments and so is easily transported, rapidly colonizing ponds, lakes and slow-moving water, with dense growth that can shade out native species. When Michel inspected the stems, extending up several metres, he noticed that some supported thick clusters of zebra mussels. Originating in Russia and Ukraine, these small molluscs, with characteristic banding patterns, are prolific breeders that are spread by boats and have invaded most of western Europe and North America. Their filter‑feeding significantly reduces plankton densities, increasing water clarity and disrupting ecosystems. Carefully maneuvering his bulky diving gear in the tangle of vegetation, Michel composed his picture with a wide angle to convey the feeling of gazing up from a forest floor, among throngs of towering trees.
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"The freshwater forest" by Michel Roggo, Switzerland. Highly Commended 2019, Plants and Fungi. Slender stems of Eurasian watermilfoil, bearing whorls of soft, feathery leaves, reach for the sky from the bed of Lake Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Michel has photographed freshwater regions worldwide, but this was the first time he had dived in the lake nearest to his home. He was swimming near the surface – absorbed with the beauty of the plants and their small reddish flowers – when he spotted a huge pike disappearing into the mass of vegetation below. Very slowly, he sank down for a closer look. When he reached the bottom, he found himself immersed in an ‘underwater jungle with an endless view’. Watermilfoil is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa but has spread worldwide. It can grow from fragments and so is easily transported, rapidly colonizing ponds, lakes and slow-moving water, with dense growth that can shade out native species. When Michel inspected the stems, extending up several metres, he noticed that some supported thick clusters of zebra mussels. Originating in Russia and Ukraine, these small molluscs, with characteristic banding patterns, are prolific breeders that are spread by boats and have invaded most of western Europe and North America. Their filter‑feeding significantly reduces plankton densities, increasing water clarity and disrupting ecosystems. Carefully maneuvering his bulky diving gear in the tangle of vegetation, Michel composed his picture with a wide angle to convey the feeling of gazing up from a forest floor, among throngs of towering trees.
"Jelly baby" by Fabien Michenet, France. Highly Commended 2019, Under Water. A juvenile jackfish peers out from inside a small jellyfish off Tahiti in French Polynesia. With nowhere to hide in the open ocean, it has adopted the jelly as an overnight travelling shelter, slipping under the umbrella and possibly immune to the stinging tentacles, which deter potential predators. In hundreds of night dives, says Fabien, ‘I’ve never seen one without the other.’ It is not clear if a jelly derives any benefit or why the relationship breaks down when water acidifies. Diving in deep open water in darkness – here at 20 metres (65 feet) down – is Fabien’s speciality. Zooplankton migrate up from the deep under cover of darkness to feed on surface-dwelling phytoplankton (which need sunlight), and other predators stream after them. Drifting with the jelly and its rider, Fabien combined all the elements of his composition at exactly the right moment.
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"Jelly baby" by Fabien Michenet, France. Highly Commended 2019, Under Water. A juvenile jackfish peers out from inside a small jellyfish off Tahiti in French Polynesia. With nowhere to hide in the open ocean, it has adopted the jelly as an overnight travelling shelter, slipping under the umbrella and possibly immune to the stinging tentacles, which deter potential predators. In hundreds of night dives, says Fabien, ‘I’ve never seen one without the other.’ It is not clear if a jelly derives any benefit or why the relationship breaks down when water acidifies. Diving in deep open water in darkness – here at 20 metres (65 feet) down – is Fabien’s speciality. Zooplankton migrate up from the deep under cover of darkness to feed on surface-dwelling phytoplankton (which need sunlight), and other predators stream after them. Drifting with the jelly and its rider, Fabien combined all the elements of his composition at exactly the right moment.
Circle of life by Alex Mustard, UK. Highly commended 2019, Black and White. In the clear water of the Red Sea, a shoal of bigeye trevally circle 25 meters (80 feet) down at the edge of the reef. For the past 20 years Alex has travelled here, to Ras Mohammad – a national park at the tip of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula – to photograph the summer-spawning aggregations of reef fish. ‘The big lure is that I always see something new,’ he says. This time, it was the high numbers of bigeye trevally. Their circling behavior is a dating exercise prior to pairing up, though it also deters predators. Spawning gatherings like this are easily fished out – but not here, as the national park is a no-fishing marine reserve. Using a lens system with a 130‑degree angle of view, Alex captured the shape of the shoal against the deep blue water below, the iridescent angled fish reflecting the light from the sun and his strobes.
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Circle of life by Alex Mustard, UK. Highly commended 2019, Black and White. In the clear water of the Red Sea, a shoal of bigeye trevally circle 25 meters (80 feet) down at the edge of the reef. For the past 20 years Alex has travelled here, to Ras Mohammad – a national park at the tip of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula – to photograph the summer-spawning aggregations of reef fish. ‘The big lure is that I always see something new,’ he says. This time, it was the high numbers of bigeye trevally. Their circling behavior is a dating exercise prior to pairing up, though it also deters predators. Spawning gatherings like this are easily fished out – but not here, as the national park is a no-fishing marine reserve. Using a lens system with a 130‑degree angle of view, Alex captured the shape of the shoal against the deep blue water below, the iridescent angled fish reflecting the light from the sun and his strobes.
"Touching trust" by Thomas P Peschak, Germany/South Africa. Highly Commended 2019, Wildlife PhotojournalismA curious young grey whale approaches a pair of hands reaching down from a tourist boat. In San Ignacio Lagoon, on the coast of Mexico’s Baja California, baby grey whales and their mothers actively seek contact with people for a head scratch or back rub. The lagoon is one of three that comprise a grey whale nursery and sanctuary – a key winter breeding ground for this surviving breeding population of grey whales, the eastern North Pacific ones. Whaling left the western population near extinction and wiped out the North Atlantic one. Persecution may also have led to the whales’ aggression towards boats and, in San Ignacio, a long‑lasting fear among local fishermen. But in the 1970s, a young whale approached a fisherman who dared to reach out and touch it. The trust between whales and humans built up, and today many females actively encourage their calves to interact with people. The fishermen have also gained a whale‑watching income in winter – now vital as fish populations and therefore catches decline. In San Ignacio Lagoon, a World Heritage Site, whale‑watching is carefully managed by the community – limited boats, no winter fishing and interaction only if the whales choose it. Just a few years ago, the community – with international support – also won a lengthy battle to stop a global corporation building a salt plant in the lagoon. For Tom Peschak, a veteran marine photographer and biologist, a whale that demanded petting and got too close for him to focus was a first. In this sanctuary, it is the wild animals that call the shots.
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"Touching trust" by Thomas P Peschak, Germany/South Africa. Highly Commended 2019, Wildlife Photojournalism. A curious young grey whale approaches a pair of hands reaching down from a tourist boat. In San Ignacio Lagoon, on the coast of Mexico’s Baja California, baby grey whales and their mothers actively seek contact with people for a head scratch or back rub. The lagoon is one of three that comprise a grey whale nursery and sanctuary – a key winter breeding ground for this surviving breeding population of grey whales, the eastern North Pacific ones. Whaling left the western population near extinction and wiped out the North Atlantic one. Persecution may also have led to the whales’ aggression towards boats and, in San Ignacio, a long‑lasting fear among local fishermen. But in the 1970s, a young whale approached a fisherman who dared to reach out and touch it. The trust between whales and humans built up, and today many females actively encourage their calves to interact with people. The fishermen have also gained a whale‑watching income in winter – now vital as fish populations and therefore catches decline. In San Ignacio Lagoon, a World Heritage Site, whale‑watching is carefully managed by the community – limited boats, no winter fishing and interaction only if the whales choose it. Just a few years ago, the community – with international support – also won a lengthy battle to stop a global corporation building a salt plant in the lagoon. For Tom Peschak, a veteran marine photographer and biologist, a whale that demanded petting and got too close for him to focus was a first. In this sanctuary, it is the wild animals that call the shots.
"The wall of shame" by Jo-Anne McArthur, Canada. Highly Commended 2019, Wildlife Photojournalism. Pinned to a white wall are the skins of rattlesnakes. Surrounding them are signed bloody handprints – triumphant marks of those who have skinned snakes at the annual rattlesnake round-up in Sweetwater, Texas. Each year tens of thousands of rattlesnakes are caught for this four‑day festival. In spring, wranglers use gasoline to flush the snakes out of their winter dens – a practice banned in many US states. They are kept in poor conditions before being brought to the festival and tossed into snake pits. They are then decapitated as entertainment for festival-goers, who pay to skin them. Proponents of the roundups claim they are needed to control the populations of venomous snakes to ensure the safety of people, pets and livestock. But opponents regard round-ups as an ecologically damaging, unsustainable and inhumane practice. What Jo-Anne found most unsettling about this image was ‘that so many of the bloodied handprints belonged to children’.
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"The wall of shame" by Jo-Anne McArthur, Canada. Highly Commended 2019, Wildlife Photojournalism. Pinned to a white wall are the skins of rattlesnakes. Surrounding them are signed bloody handprints – triumphant marks of those who have skinned snakes at the annual rattlesnake round-up in Sweetwater, Texas. Each year tens of thousands of rattlesnakes are caught for this four‑day festival. In spring, wranglers use gasoline to flush the snakes out of their winter dens – a practice banned in many US states. They are kept in poor conditions before being brought to the festival and tossed into snake pits. They are then decapitated as entertainment for festival-goers, who pay to skin them. Proponents of the roundups claim they are needed to control the populations of venomous snakes to ensure the safety of people, pets and livestock. But opponents regard round-ups as an ecologically damaging, unsustainable and inhumane practice. What Jo-Anne found most unsettling about this image was ‘that so many of the bloodied handprints belonged to children’.
"Beach waste" by Matthew Ware, USA. Highly Commended 2019, Wildlife Photojournalism. From a distance, the beach scene at Alabama’s Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge looked appealing: blue sky, soft sand and a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. But as Matthew and the strandings patrol team got closer they could see the fatal noose around the turtle’s neck attached to the washed-up beach chair. The Kemp’s ridley is not only one of the smallest sea turtles – just 65 centimeters (2 feet) long – it is also the most endangered. Over the past 50 years, human activities – from egg and meat consumption to incidental capture in fishing nets – have greatly reduced its numbers. Today, despite protection of its limited nesting sites along the western coast of the Gulf of Mexico and a requirement for trawlers to use turtle-excluders, it is still under threat. But as Matthew witnesses on his daily nesting-patrol, another danger is injury or drowning resulting from the huge amount of discarded fishing gear and rubbish that ends up in the ocean.
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"Beach waste" by Matthew Ware, USA. Highly Commended 2019, Wildlife Photojournalism. From a distance, the beach scene at Alabama’s Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge looked appealing: blue sky, soft sand and a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. But as Matthew and the strandings patrol team got closer they could see the fatal noose around the turtle’s neck attached to the washed-up beach chair. The Kemp’s ridley is not only one of the smallest sea turtles – just 65 centimeters (2 feet) long – it is also the most endangered. Over the past 50 years, human activities – from egg and meat consumption to incidental capture in fishing nets – have greatly reduced its numbers. Today, despite protection of its limited nesting sites along the western coast of the Gulf of Mexico and a requirement for trawlers to use turtle-excluders, it is still under threat. But as Matthew witnesses on his daily nesting-patrol, another danger is injury or drowning resulting from the huge amount of discarded fishing gear and rubbish that ends up in the ocean.
"The climbing dead" by Frank Deschandol. Highly Commended 2019, Plants and Fungi. On a night-time fieldtrip in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, Frank spotted this bizarre-looking weevil clinging to a fern stem. Its glazed eyes showed it was dead, and the three antennae-like projections growing out of its thorax were the ripe fruiting bodies of a ‘zombie fungus’. Spreading inside the weevil while it was alive, the parasitic fungus had taken control of its muscles and compelled it to climb. When it was at a suitable height – for the fungus – the weevil held fast to the stem. Fuelled by the weevil’s insides, the fungus then started to grow fruiting bodies topped by capsules that would release a multitude of tiny spores to infect new prey. Similar ‘zombie fungi’ are known to parasitize other insects. Shooting the weevil head on, to show its characteristic elongated snout, Frank isolated the fungus against a soft background to emphasize the capsules. By the next day, the spores had been released and the fungus had withered, its mission accomplished.
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"The climbing dead" by Frank Deschandol. Highly Commended 2019, Plants and Fungi. On a night-time fieldtrip in the Peruvian Amazon rainforest, Frank spotted this bizarre-looking weevil clinging to a fern stem. Its glazed eyes showed it was dead, and the three antennae-like projections growing out of its thorax were the ripe fruiting bodies of a ‘zombie fungus’. Spreading inside the weevil while it was alive, the parasitic fungus had taken control of its muscles and compelled it to climb. When it was at a suitable height – for the fungus – the weevil held fast to the stem. Fuelled by the weevil’s insides, the fungus then started to grow fruiting bodies topped by capsules that would release a multitude of tiny spores to infect new prey. Similar ‘zombie fungi’ are known to parasitize other insects. Shooting the weevil head on, to show its characteristic elongated snout, Frank isolated the fungus against a soft background to emphasize the capsules. By the next day, the spores had been released and the fungus had withered, its mission accomplished.

Ahead of the overall winner announcement next month, the Natural History Museum has revealed 15 highly commended images from its iconic Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. This truly spectacular collection of shots includes a blissful snap of a sleeping seal and a remarkable photograph of a cheetah battling a pack of African wild dogs.

In its 55th year, the competition is arguably the world’s strongest nature photography contest. This year, nearly 50,000 entries were submitted spanning 100 countries and 16 categories. The winners are set to be revealed on October 15, at a ceremony in London.

"Sleeping like a Weddell" by Ralf Schneider. Highly Commended 2019, Black and White. Hugging its flippers tight to its body, the Weddell seal closed its eyes and appeared to fall into a deep sleep. Lying on fast ice (ice attached to land) off Larsen Harbour, South Georgia, it was relatively safe from its predators – killer whales and leopard seals – and so could completely relax and digest.
"Sleeping like a Weddell" by Ralf Schneider. Highly Commended 2019, Black and White. Hugging its flippers tight to its body, the Weddell seal closed its eyes and appeared to fall into a deep sleep. Lying on fast ice (ice attached to land) off Larsen Harbour, South Georgia, it was relatively safe from its predators – killer whales and leopard seals – and so could completely relax and digest.

“For more than 50 years this competition has attracted the world's very best photographers, naturalists and young photographers, but there has never been a more important time for audiences all over the world to experience their work in our inspiring and impactful exhibition,” says Tim Littlewood, a member of this year’s judging panel, and science director at the Natural History Museum. “Photography has a unique ability to spark conversation, debate and even action. We hope this year's exhibition will empower people to think differently about our planet and our critical role in its future.”

"If penguins could fly" by Eduardo Del Álamo, Spain. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Mammals. A gentoo penguin – the fastest underwater swimmer of all penguins – flees for its life as a leopard seal bursts out of the water.
"If penguins could fly" by Eduardo Del Álamo, Spain. Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Mammals. A gentoo penguin – the fastest underwater swimmer of all penguins – flees for its life as a leopard seal bursts out of the water.

Some genuinely incredible images featured in this shortlist of commended entries reveal a newborn hippo being attacked by a large male in a rarely witnessed moment of aggression; an amazing circular mating ritual of swirling bigeye trevally in Egypt’s Red Sea; and a penguin leaping for its life as a leopard seal lunges for its lunch.

Take a look through our gallery at 15 of the amazing shots in the running to take out this world-class competition.

Source: Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year

2 comments
guzmanchinky
Is anyone else worried the Raccoon is stuck?
sidmehta
Please don't publicize pic #13. A sad reflection on our lack of humanity. Torturing animals for no reason at all.