A first glimpse: Ten images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 competition

| 01 September 2015

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 exhibition opens at the Natural History Museum next month. Here are ten images to look out for

Finalist, Underwater

a photo of a semi translucent and transparent jellyfish in a dark ocean
It Came from the Deep© Fabien Michenet
Fabien Michenet spends many hours diving at night in deep water off the coast of Tahiti, French Polynesia, where he lives. One night, about 20 metres below the surface, some juvenile octopuses - just 2 centimetres across - swam into view. "One of them stopped in front me," says Fabien. "It was waving its tentacles gracefully, perhaps taking advantage of my lights to hunt the little crustaceans that were swimming around." Its body was transparent – camouflage for the open ocean – revealing its internal organs.

Finalist, 10 Years and Under

a photo of a squirrel with its paws on the side of a drinking trough as it peers into the eyes and beak of a large black bird from the
To Drink or Not© Carlos Perez Naval
Carlos Perez Naval was down on the beach at Morro Bay in California, on holiday with his family, when he witnessed a fascinating interaction between two different species. A colony of California ground squirrels lives among the rocks at one side of the bay, fed by locals who also put out dishes of water for them. Whenever a ground squirrel dared to get too close, a gull would chase it away, aiming its powerful beak at the squirrel’s head. Carlos took the shot just before the gull lunged forwards and the squirrel fled.

Finalist, Photojournalism Award: Single Image

a photo of a man on a surfboard and a shark silhouetted in the ocean from below as featured in the 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition
The Shark Surfer© Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015
The many sharks to be found at Aliwal Shoal near Durban, South Africa, make it a popular dive site – the perfect place to test a prototype surfboard with an electromagnetic shark deterrent. "I wanted to illustrate a non-lethal approach to mitigating the shark-surfer conflict," explains photographer Tom Peschak. When the new board was switched off, the curious blacktip sharks swam close, but when it was activated - stimulating their sensory organs - they stayed at a distance. To avoid bubbles in the picture, Tom free-dived, framing the complementary forms to suggest peaceful coexistence rather than conflict.

Finalist, Urban Wildlife

a photo of five storks nesting on a sculpture made from a jet plane and an old car
Francisco Mingorance, Stork Art© Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015
White storks seem equally at home on artificial structures as they are in trees, often nesting on rooftops and telegraph poles. Francisco Mignorance discovered three pairs high on this sculpture outside the Vostell-Malpartida Museum near Cáceres in Spain. The installation, by German artist Wolf Vostell, incorporates a Russian MiG-21 aircraft, two cars, pianos, computer monitors, and now three huge nests which the storks use each year, migrating from their overwintering grounds in southern Africa.

Finalist, Mammals

a photo of a hare staring at the camera as it crouches in a snowy field from the 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition
Rosamund Macfarlane, Snow Hare© Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015
Native to Britain, mountain hares moult from brown to white or partially white in winter, depending on temperature. With a local expert, Rosamund Macfarlane climbed a valley in the Scottish Cairngorms, "at times through knee-deep snow", until they came across a couple of hares. In the late afternoon, the hares started to feed, scraping the snow from the heather and then nibbling the shoots. Positioning herself so that she was looking up a gentle incline directly at one hare, Rosamund captured its determined scrabbling in a head-on portrait.

Finalist, Amphibians & Reptiles

a photo of two large lizards fighting from the 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition
Komodo Judo© Andrey Gudkov
On a December morning, on Rinca Island, Andrey Gudkov found two large male Komodo dragons hissing angrily at each other. To his surprise the confrontation escalated. The lizards reared up on their hind legs, supported by their long, muscular tails. The dragons fought two consecutive bouts of a few seconds each until one overpowered the other, knocking their foe over backwards, and the pair walked off in different directions.

Finalist, Land

a photo of a snowy mountain landscape with a bird resting on the branches of a snow laden tree in the foreground from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015
Jagged Peace© Floris van Breugel
"It was a rare opportunity," says Floris van Breugel , grateful to his companion who was skilled at predicting weather patterns in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park, Patagonia. While Floris was scouting for compositions, a little bird showed up – a black-billed shrike-tyrant (named after the aggressive nature of some species in its tyrant flycatcher family). With fresh snow and muted light evoking the quiet wilderness, the bird completed the shot, adding a sense of scale and connection to the landscape.

Finalist, Birds

a blue tinged photograph of a mass of Great Egrets part of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015
Zsolt Kudich, Great Egret Awakening© Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015
When the River Danube flooded into Hungary’s Gemenc Forest, more than 1,000 great egrets flocked to the lake to feed on the stranded amphibians, fish and invertebrates. By 1921, hunting had reduced their number to just 31 pairs. Today, habitat loss is the big threat. Using the soft dawn light, Zsolt wanted to convey the impression of a multitude of birds. So he pitched his camouflaged tent nearby, sleeping just a few hours a night for five nights. His chance came when a fishing white-tailed eagle sent some of the egrets into the air. With a slow shutter speed to blur the wings and a large depth of field to keep in focus those standing, Zsolt got his memorable image.

Finalist, Photojournalism Award: Single Image
a photo of a prone gorilla receiving care from three people in a room as another gorilla peers through the bars of the window from the 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition
Gorilla Care© Marcus Westberg
Ndeze, a nine-year-old orphan mountain gorilla, watches with concern as veterinarians check the health of her female companion, 12-year-old Maisha, in the Senkwekwe Centre at the headquarters of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The centre - named after Ndeze’s father, who was murdered along with Ndeze’s mother and several other members of her family in 2007 - is just part of the park’s efforts to protect the surviving mountain gorillas.

Finalist, Black & White

a photo of an elephant framed through the legs of another elephant with a zebra and a giraffe also visible
Natural Frame© Morkel Erasmus
From a cramped bunker sunk into the ground beside a remote waterhole in Namibia’s Etosha National Park, Morkel Erasmus  saw giraffes, zebras and kudu wander in and out of view. The elephants were right in front, sometimes so close that his view was blocked. His moment came when a mother framed his shot with her legs just as her calf walked into view framing a giraffe. Having caught his "dream moment", Morkel put down his camera to sit and enjoyed the "bliss" of watching wild animals taking their turn to drink from this life-giving waterhole.

  • The Wildlife Photographer of the Year is at the Natural History Museum from October 16 2015 - May 10 2016. The 100 shortlisted images – including the winning pictures – will also embark on an international tour spanning six continents. Visit the Wildlife Photographer of the Year online to book.

Three places to see nature art in

Hawthorns Urban Wildlife Centre, Southampton
Built on land that had previously been a zoo, a tree nursery and The Hawthorns Cottage, this interactive display includes features on hard-to-identify creatures, the virtuosity of rats, mice, newts and fish have fantastic new homes.

Herne Bay Museum and Gallery, Kent
This coastal museum features the story of the Victorian seaside resort of Herne Bay and its surrounding area, with exciting finds from nearby Reculver Roman fort. Displays include local paintings, prints and photos, mammoth tusks and fossils from local beaches, coastal wildlife and a Barnes Wallis Bouncing Bomb prototype from World War Two.

The North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford
The current Oxford Photographic Society Annual Exhibition 2015 features a diverse range of entrants portraying land and seascapes, streets, sports and wildlife, as well as fine art and more.
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