When great science and beautiful art are combined, amazing things may be achieved. That is the guiding principle behind the World Nature Photography Awards, a global competition for nature and wildlife photography for the benefit of the whole planet.
Their vision is of a future in which climate change has been stopped, and man’s relationship with the natural world has changed from one of taking to one of preservation. And when we saw COVID-19 lockdowns briefly clear our skies and oceans, there appeared to be no better time to be reminded of the fact that we are temporary guests on planet Earth.
We believe in photography’s power to illuminate the magnificence and wonder of the natural world around us, pushing us to act now to guarantee a better future for all of us in the years ahead.
The World Wildlife Photography Awards’ mission is to recognize and honor the world’s best nature photographers while exposing them to a broader audience. Additionally, we are committed to helping climate change groups, and as part of our commitment, we want to plant a tree for each individual who enters the competition until 2021.
The world changes and evolves with time. The same may be said of the natural world. As a result, once a year, the Academy of Sciences in California organizes the Natural World Photography Competition, which the BigPicture organization contains, to show pictures of the natural world shot from the most stunning perspectives.
We’ve previously written about the contest’s finalists, which you can find here. The following is a list of the prize winners for this competition for the year 2021. These photos were first featured in Biographic magazine, and they are a wonderful collection of images to behold.
The highest prize was given to Jo-Anne McArthur. He found a mother Kangaroo with her young in her pouch while working with a search and rescue squad to save koalas from the Australian bushfires. When he came upon the mother Kangaroo, he was surrounded by smoky trees and ash. This was the top prize winner since the image was both aesthetically stunning and emotionally moving.
Many representations of how the natural environment and creatures operate in their surroundings as the world around them changes and develops have been created. Because the natural world is so diverse and beautiful, our curiosity about it is unquenchable. We can’t get over how amazing it is. This is one of the reasons why photographers and image enthusiasts from all around the world enter contests of this kind. This acts as a spotlight for the talent to shine through and a looking glass into the natural world to be examined.
The ecology of Australia has been devastated by Bushfires in recent years, and between 2019 and 2020, they consume almost 17 million hectares (42 million acres). Wildfires have destroyed both ecosystems and animal populations, and scientists are worried that the warming may make these catastrophes more common. Although this trend is declining, conservationists work to preserve the places and animals that make up our island nation.
In January, following a devastating wildfire on Australia’s southeast coast, Jo-Anne McArthur participated in such an effort. Vets for Compassion scanned a plantation of eucalyptus for injured and famished Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). There she came upon a woman wearing a joy that had survived the tragedy, the East Gray Cangaroo (Macropus Giantess). It is a spectacular time for McArthur: the kangaroo and the eucalyptus tree, two of Australia’s most renowned species – at a dangerous juncture in evolutionary history. However, the individuals in her picture have also become symbols of hope and show that lives amid hardship may continue.
With their silky coats, big, black eyes, and continuous grins, leopard seals (Hydrurga leptonyx) lounging on Antarctic ice floes may seem downright adorable. On the other hand, penguins have a unique perspective on these powerful apex predators. Leopard seals are capable of capturing and subduing a wide range of prey owing to their size of up to 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds), their powerful jaws armed with sharp teeth, and their enormous front flippers that propel them through the water at speeds of up to 37 kilometers per hour (23 miles per hour). Only a few animals are secure in their company. According to research, leopard seals consume anything from krill, fish, octopuses, and crabs to penguins and other seals. According to recent studies on the Antarctic Peninsula, penguins account for roughly a quarter of the leopard seal’s food throughout the year, not far from where photographer Amos Nachoum captured this image of a leopard seal eating on a young Gentoo penguin (Pygoscelis Papua). This proportion increases to almost 50% for larger female leopard seals, especially when they have pups. Scientists are racing to understand such feeding patterns better and their possible impact on vulnerable species populations as polar regions continue to warm faster than the rest of the world.
Outside Toplepada, India, a golden pen of spores erupts from the gills of a mushroom coffin, dancing in the glitter of photographer Sarang Naik’s light. This magical poisoned dust will eventually grow more mushrooms—and not in the way you may think. Although just a few firm motes land on the earth to create the underground’s branching filaments, which produce young mushrooms, many more spores will reach the air to perform an equally important role. Millions of tons of fungal spores are released into the atmosphere each year, creating the solid core for water condensation in clouds and precipitation, bringing life to forests worldwide, and ensuring the survival of future generations of fungus. This cycle, on the other hand, may go in both ways. As droughts worsen due to global warming, fewer champignons will emerge, reducing occasional showers and, in turn, leading to more severe shortages in the future.
While the Ecuadorean highlands are many, just a few seem to be as good for a bit of foot as a long beak of a Sword-billed cockroach (Ensifera Ensiferum). A bird of a different feather is what seems to be a young man taking his rest beneath the glare of his father; an opportunist sprinkled hummingbird (Adelomyia melanogenys) trying to conserve energy. Calories—which they consume and save—are essential for the survival and reproduction of hummingbirds, especially for species like these two, which live in the chilly and humid cloud forests in the Andes. After all, every day, they require hundreds of flower visits. As a consequence, a convenient barn with its detection of predators is hard to overcome.
Even though the end of the pandemic is now in sight, the COVID-19 wounds will endure for many years to come, including the scars left in our immediate environment. Since the pandemic, the usage of single-use plastics has skyrocketed, driven mainly by an increase in personal protective equipment, which is both epidemiologically necessary and ecologically destructive. One study showed that 129 billion face masks and 65 billion gloves were worn each month globally during the pandemic, with 75% of them being used at garbage sites or in the water. Fortunately, most of this equipment — like this mask inspected by a curious California seabed lion (Zalophus californianus) — is made of durable, centuries-old polymers. However, if the preceding year has taught us anything, everything is possible with the right resources and dedication. Perhaps a new picture of our single-use mentality toward goods will emerge shortly.
On the surface of these Icelandic volcanoes, iron oxide deposited from past eruptions seems to be lava flowing down the slopes. However, this is not the case. As was the case with Geldingadalir, a volcano located just 20 minutes outside of Reykjavik, it has been erupting actively since 19 March 2021; the previous eruption at the Fjallabak nature conservation site occurred in 1480, as was the case with the outbreak earlier here at the Fjallabak nature conservation site.
There is minimal vegetation in the Reserve because of the dry and cold climate, which has a limited yearly growth season of about two months. The landscape is tinted by mineral-streamed mountains, which add to the beauty of the landscape. Fran Rubia’s tremendous beauty awaited him, primarily when he first viewed it from above, and he was not disappointed. Fran Rubia is the author of this work. “When I lifted the drone for a reconnaissance flight, I was taken aback by the massive amount of iron oxide present inside the volcanoes,” he continues. The photo of him that was shot later in the day captured his thoughts on preserving these places. “Because the photograph seems to have been shot on another planet, it looked to me to be a primeval region that had not been altered by humans, making it even more unusual.”
This view may be the last sight many, unfortunately, sea creatures witness before succumbing to the poisonous bite of the jellyfish barrel. It is beautiful and intriguing (Rhizostoma Pulmo). When washing on the United Kingdom shores, the species is often referred to as the jellyfish with its dustbin due to its size and form. It has a diameter of 90 centimeters (35″) or more when it’s discovered as one of the giant jellyfish in the world. Its range extends from the North and South Atlantic to the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, among other locations. While the barrel jellyfish are usually observed dead and flattened on beaches, their translucent bell looks like a mushroom, with a shiny violet strip of sensory organs surrounding its borders. Besides the bell, eight arms follow it, subdue the food and pull it into the mouths of the jellyfish. By revealing his shot, photographer Angel Fitor was able to catch the intimate and scary features of their arms.
Common ravens (Corvus corax), who usually live in pairs for the rest of their lives, are examples of allopreening – reciprocal care that builds social connections while also keeping the birds’ plumage clean. Photographer Shane Kalyn captured this personal and candid moment in the open. Because this behavior is vulnerable, birds may be subjected to violent intervention by members of other species due to their behavior. Research conducted in 2014 by specialists at the University of Vienna revealed that ravens often interfere with grooming between different couples, especially those with more intimate relationships. There is little doubt that these therapies are intended to prevent neighboring teams from forming close connections that might lead to increased reproductive success in the future. Scientist Kaeli Swift points out that, as she says, “The results of this study force us to embrace the idea that an animal, particularly a bird, can offer future advantages in exchange for current risks or losses. Such a plan is a talent that we as humans take for granted, even though it is a cognitive achievement.” It is just another incredible achievement to be added to the list of birds who have shown the ability to use tools and solve issues.
Palau’s Blue Corner, located about 40 km southwest of Koror, is one of the world’s best diving sites. It has mountainous reefs, over 1 thousand species of tropical fish, and several types of sharks living in corals. But it is a tough job to appreciate its beauty. Even the most experienced divers are drained when currents alter their speed and direction at a specific time, send them hurtling or even out into the sea to the River.
Given the turbulent conditions, when he spotted the streamlined barracuda (Sphyraena sp), the underwater photographer, Yungsen Wu, was not envious enough to catch gliding smoothly through the water. It took a long time for the barracuda to warm up for Wu’s arrival and were more renowned for their hunts than for their welcome. On the other hand, Wu often braved the Blue Corner currents over five days to gain trust and finally allowed him to capture this beautiful photo at the school there on his last day.
Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) hibernate in Canada’s Yukon Territory for an extended period to catch the last salmon of the season as soon as the temperature drops below -20 degrees Celsius. The Grizzles’ water-soaked fur begins to freeze into a chandelier, with a tinkling at each step. According to the legends of the area, the bears’ ice armor is said to be impenetrable by arrows. Unfortunately, as is widely known, Yukon’s ice bears are now facing new threats outmatched by their natural defenses. Climate change and other human activities contribute to poor salmon runs, sluggish river flows, and shorter winters, all of which threaten the ice bears’ ability to survive and reproduce.
Despite its tiny size and rarity in the natural, the Dionaea muscipula (Venus Flytrap) has more than just a predatory capacity than a flytrap and is one of the world’s most recognizable plants with a unique appearance. An animal-eating plant has become a great fascination for many people, generating a lucrative crop industry—and, sadly, wild hunting too—carnivory in the way of survival in the Pinus palustris forests of Carolinas. The species survives there, utilizing solar power to make food, similarly to others plants. Unlike many other plants, the Venus flytrap must also have critical nutrients, which are missing in the soils in which it grows. It is highly specialized in this fact, as the hoverfly (Toxomerus sp.) went its business in North Carolina’s forest in November last year and found that it is hard to make the touch with the snap-slippers on the surfaces.