Emperor Penguins and Red Kite scoop top accolades in Wildlife Photographer of Year

By Culture24 Reporter | 18 October 2012
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a photo of penguins underwater
Paul Nicklen’s Bubble-jetting emperors, a spectacular image of the underwater world of emperor penguins at the edge of the Ross Sea, Antarctica© Paul Nicklen / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
A spectacular image of the chaotic underwater world of Emperor Penguins has been named as this year’s overall winner in the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

Paul Nicklen’s stunning image – taken beneath the ocean at the edge of the Ross Sea in Antarctica – beat off competition from a staggering 48,000 entries from 98 countries to the competition, which is now in its 48th year.

Canadian Nicklen had to remain motionless with frozen fingers, his legs locked underneath the ice to capture the image of the birds as they blasted from the icey depths.

“It was a fantastic sight,” he says. “Hundreds launched themselves out of the water and on to the ice above me. It was a moment that I felt incredibly fortunate to witness and one I’ll never forget.”

Underwater photographer David Doubilet, one of the competition judges, praised the picture for the way it revealed the penguin’s “private world” and for its sense of “perfectly organised, infinite chaos”.

“My eyes linger over it trying to absorb everything that’s going on here,” he added.

a photo of a red kite bird of prey with the outline of a jet plane visible in the sky above it
Owen Hearn's Flight Paths, featuring a resplendent red kite mirroring a distant plane, was captured on his grandparents’ farm.© Owen Hearn / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
Teenager Owen Hearn scooped the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year prize for his photograph of a resplendent red kite with a distant jet plane above it, taken on his grandparent’s farm.

Hearn regularly leaves the house at dawn and can be found lying in hedgerows late of an evening, striving to capture the local fauna. He said he felt “very proud that one of the images taken on my grandparents’ farm was so successful.”

The photograph was actually taken on a site originally chosen for London’s third airport in the late 1960s, when British red kites faced extinction. Opposition to the airport and the reintroduction of red kites to the UK means the birds now fly freely.

The two images were selected from 18 individual category winners, depicting nature at its finest, from animal behaviour to stunning landscapes. They were judged by a panel of industry-recognised professionals.

The exhibition, featuring 100 awe-inspiring images of nature, opens at the Natural History Museum on October 19.

More pictures:

a convex image of a snowy wildreness with mountains and a star filled sky daubed with swathes of red clouds
Eric Hosking Portfolio Award. Winner: Vladimir Medvedev (Russia), Snowstorm light, taken at Peyto Lake in Banff National Park, Canada© Valdimir Medvedev / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
a photo of a tiger walking through a forest at night
Wildlife Photojournalist Award. Winner: Steve Winter (USA), Last Look. One the last 400-500 wild, critically endangered Sumatran tigers© Steve Winter / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
a photo of two rhinos - one with a bloody hole where its horn once was
Wildlife Photojournalist Award. Runner Up: Brent Stirton (South Africa), The real cost. A female Southern White Rhino, inseparable from her companion, is lucky to be alive after having her horn brutally hacked away by poachers© Brent Stirton / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
a photo of a Polar Bear on a mass of broken ice slabs
The World in Our Hands Award. Winner: Anna Henly (UK), Ice matters. A polar bear walks gingerly across the broken up ice floes at Svalbard – an archipelago midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole© Anna Henly / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
a photo of two penguins, one of which is in mid-air as it springs from the water onto the ice
Behaviour: Birds. Winner: Paul Nicklen (Canada), Frozen Moment. Penguins exit the Ross Sea in Antartica as fast as possible to escape the Lion Seals who feed on them. The penguins then toboggan 10 kilometres to their colony of pups awaiting their regurgitated food© Paul Nicklen / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
a photo of a young deer stalked by a pack of cheetahs behind it
Behaviour: Mammals. Winner: Grégoire Bouguereau (France), Practice run. A Thomson's gazelle calf caught - but not killed - by a cheetah so her young cubs can practice their hunting technique© Gregoire Bouguereau / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
a photo of a rusty car with a squirrel perched on its broken bumper
Urban Wildlife. Runner Up: Pål Hermansen (Norway), Bumper life. A story book picture of a squirrel in an abandoned scrapyard© Pal Hermansen/ Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
a photo of a gull on water which shows a stunning series of waves and patterns
Wildscapes. Winner: Eve Tucker (UK), City gull. A black-headed gull resting on a very remarkable area of water in London's docklands© Eve Tucker / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012
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