Photography

Rare sights impress in the 2022 BigPicture competition winners

Rare sights impress in the 2022 BigPicture competition winners
Terrestrial Life Finalist. The Stoat’s Game. In the pre-dawn hours of a cold winter morning in the French Alps a stoat (Mustela erminea) emerges from its burrow
Terrestrial Life Finalist. The Stoat’s Game. In the pre-dawn hours of a cold winter morning in the French Alps a stoat (Mustela erminea) emerges from its burrow
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Aquatic Life Finalist. Tunnel Vision. Atlantic goliath groupers (Epinephelus itajara) gather off the east coast of Florida to spawn
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Aquatic Life Finalist. Tunnel Vision. Atlantic goliath groupers (Epinephelus itajara) gather off the east coast of Florida to spawn
Grand Prize Winner. Bee Balling. A female cactus bee is swarmed by males forming a mating ball
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Grand Prize Winner. Bee Balling. A female cactus bee is swarmed by males forming a mating ball
Human/Nature Finalist. Face to Face. Two creatures face off through a woven-wire fence: one predator the other prey; one wild, the other, essentially, manufactured for our use
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Human/Nature Finalist. Face to Face. Two creatures face off through a woven-wire fence: one predator the other prey; one wild, the other, essentially, manufactured for our use
Terrestrial Life Finalist. Embryology. In northeastern Ecuador, a female Wiley’s glass frog (Nymphargus wileyi) hopped onto a fern and traversed one of its fronds
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Terrestrial Life Finalist. Embryology. In northeastern Ecuador, a female Wiley’s glass frog (Nymphargus wileyi) hopped onto a fern and traversed one of its fronds
Terrestrial Life Winner. Spider Web. A Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) gnawing on a tree
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Terrestrial Life Winner. Spider Web. A Eurasian beaver (Castor fiber) gnawing on a tree
Winged Life Winner. Frame Within a Frame. Indian fruit bats feed on a much wider range of flowers and fruits—from small eucalyptus flowers to large mangos and guavas
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Winged Life Winner. Frame Within a Frame. Indian fruit bats feed on a much wider range of flowers and fruits—from small eucalyptus flowers to large mangos and guavas
Waterscapes, and Flora Winner. Hidden Beauty. Deep in a cenote on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, photographer Tom St George encountered this otherworldly, seemingly lifeless cavern
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Waterscapes, and Flora Winner. Hidden Beauty. Deep in a cenote on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, photographer Tom St George encountered this otherworldly, seemingly lifeless cavern
Human/Nature Winner. Sickening Delicacy. At a spawning site for common frogs (Rana temporaria), hundreds of frogs (and several toads) lay dead in the water due to poachers
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Human/Nature Winner. Sickening Delicacy. At a spawning site for common frogs (Rana temporaria), hundreds of frogs (and several toads) lay dead in the water due to poachers
Terrestrial Life Finalist. The Stoat’s Game. In the pre-dawn hours of a cold winter morning in the French Alps a stoat (Mustela erminea) emerges from its burrow
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Terrestrial Life Finalist. The Stoat’s Game. In the pre-dawn hours of a cold winter morning in the French Alps a stoat (Mustela erminea) emerges from its burrow
Aquatic Life Winner. After the Fall. California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are iconic members of the Monterey Bay ecosystem. A dead sea lion had fallen to its final resting place, a colorful array of bat stars (Patiria miniata) strewn across its body like flowers tossed onto a grave
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Aquatic Life Winner. After the Fall. California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are iconic members of the Monterey Bay ecosystem. A dead sea lion had fallen to its final resting place, a colorful array of bat stars (Patiria miniata) strewn across its body like flowers tossed onto a grave
Art of Nature Winner. Into the Light.
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Art of Nature Winner. Into the Light.
Aquatic Life Finalist. Shooting Star. A male Leiaster leachi sea star broadcasting sperm into murky water in a shallow bay. Photographed in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan
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Aquatic Life Finalist. Shooting Star. A male Leiaster leachi sea star broadcasting sperm into murky water in a shallow bay. Photographed in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan
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Presented by the California Academy of Sciences, the BigPicture Photography Competition annually delivers an incredible collection of nature photographs. This year’s winning shots span everything from a bizarre cactus bee mating ritual to a surreal glimpse at a sea star spawning.

The BigPicture Photography Competition is in its ninth year and consistently presents some of the most spectacular natural world imagery of any photo contest. Taking out the Grand Prize this year is a rare shot of cactus bees forming a “mating ball”, from photographer Karine Aigner.

Grand Prize Winner. Bee Balling. A female cactus bee is swarmed by males forming a mating ball
Grand Prize Winner. Bee Balling. A female cactus bee is swarmed by males forming a mating ball

The bees are unusual in they don’t live in collective hives but instead form individual nests. For a few days every year mating occurs when a female emerges from her nest, only to be swarmed upon by scores of males.

“The sex ratio in this species is often wildly lopsided, with single females emerging occasionally, dozens of patrolling males finding her in seconds, and potentially thousands of males flying overhead,” explained Missouri State University entomologist, Avery Russell.

Human/Nature Finalist. Face to Face. Two creatures face off through a woven-wire fence: one predator the other prey; one wild, the other, essentially, manufactured for our use
Human/Nature Finalist. Face to Face. Two creatures face off through a woven-wire fence: one predator the other prey; one wild, the other, essentially, manufactured for our use

Other category highlights in the competition highlight rarely witnessed animal behaviors in creative and often spectacular ways. Fernando Constantino Martínez Belmar's photograph titled Face to Face is a perfect example of an incredibly rare moment captured beautifully, as an elusive wild jaguar comes up to meet a farmed pig.

Another amazing image comes from Jose Grandio in the Terrestrial Life category. Titled The Stoat’s Game, Grandio captured an exuberant stoat emerging from its burrow and playfully jumping around for half an hour. The purpose of this playful dancing behavior is unknown and hypotheses range from it being a pure expression of animal play to it being caused by an involuntary response to parasitic infections.

Winged Life Winner. Frame Within a Frame. Indian fruit bats feed on a much wider range of flowers and fruits—from small eucalyptus flowers to large mangos and guavas
Winged Life Winner. Frame Within a Frame. Indian fruit bats feed on a much wider range of flowers and fruits—from small eucalyptus flowers to large mangos and guavas

Take a look through our gallery at more highlights from this year’s competition.

This gallery was originally published in bioGraphic, an independent magazine about nature and conservation powered by the California Academy of Sciences, and media partner of the BigPicture Photography Competition.

Source: BigPicture

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