Polar bears take over the 2022 Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards
Now in its 58th year, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year is one of the world's longest running photography competitions, and this year's extraordinary winners cover everything from a surreal visit to an abandoned village now populated by polar bears to a spectacular close-up look at a strange bee mating behavior.
Run by the Natural History Museum in London, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition spans 19 different categories, including Urban Wildlife, Wetlands, Animal Portraits and Invertebrate Behaviors. This year's contest attracted nearly 40,000 entries from photographers in 93 countries.
The overall Photographer of the Year award went to American photographer Karine Aigner for a stunning shot of male cactus bees swarming over a single female at the center of a "mating ball." This isn't the first photo competition in 2022 to celebrate Aigner's instantly iconic image. A few months ago the BigPicture nature photography contest, run by the California Academy of Sciences, also awarded the "mating ball" image photo of the year.
"Wings-whirring, incoming males home in on the ball of buzzing bees that is rolling straight into the picture," said chair of the jury, Rosamund Kidman Cox. "The sense of movement and intensity is shown at bee-level magnification and transforms what are little cactus bees into big competitors for a single female."
Another highlight this year came from the winner of the Urban Wildlife category. The shot features a couple of polar bears inhabiting a house in a long-abandoned settlement.
The uncanny image was captured by photographer Dmitry Kokh, who spotted the polar bears on an isolated island in the Chukchi Sea off Russia. Kokh sent a low-noise drone onto the island to capture an amazing series of images showing a number of polar bears living in this settlement.
"Wildlife photographers offer us unforgettable glimpses into the lives of wild species, sharing unseen details, fascinating behaviors and front-line reporting on the climate and biodiversity crises," said Doug Gurr, director of the Natural History Museum. "These images demonstrate their awe of and appreciation for the natural world and the urgent need to take action to protect it."
Take a look through our gallery at more highlights from this year's stellar competition.
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