Some of the Top Shots from This Year's Wildlife Photographer Exhibition

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There were more than 45,000 entries in this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year from amateurs and professionals from 95 countries.

The exhibition for the competition, now in its 54th year, opens in the Natural History Museum in London next month. And the overall winners will be announced on 16 October.

Ian Owens, Director of Science at the Natural History Museum and member of the judging panel, says, 'We were captivated by the outstanding quality of the images entered into this year's competition, which spoke volumes to us about the passion for nature shared by talented photographers across the world. I look forward to seeing the winning selection on beautiful lightbox displays in the exhibition. I'm sure the images will surprise and inspire our visitors, and raise awareness for threatened species and ecosystems.' 

Here are some of the stunning marine shots which will be included in the exhibition.


Looking for love by Tony Wu, USA

Highly commended 2018, Animal Portraits 

 Tony Wu Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Accentuating his mature appearance with pastel colours, protruding lips and an outstanding pink forehead, this Asian sheepshead wrasse sets out to impress females and see off rivals, which he will head-butt and bite. Tony has long been fascinated by the species’ looks and life history. Individuals start out as females, and when they reach a certain age and size – up to a metre (more than 3 feet) long – can transform into males. Long-lived and slow-growing, the species is intrinsically vulnerable to overfishing. It favours rocky reefs in cool waters in the Western Pacific, where it feeds on shellfish and crustaceans, though little more is known about it. In a window of calm, amid high seas, Tony reached Japan’s remote Sado Island, to reveal some of the drama of the wrasses’ lives. Here, he conveys the suitor’s earnest intentions, written large on his face. 

Nikon D800 + Sigma 15mm f2.8 lens; 1/200 sec at f11; ISO 200; Nauticam housing; ProOne dome port; two Nikon SB-910 flashes + custom Zillion housings


Life among litter by Greg Lecoeur, France

Highly commended 2018, Wildlife Photojournalist Award: Single Image 

 Greg Lecoeur Wildlife Photographer of the Year 1

This Sargassumfish couldn’t hide among the litter. The nearby frond of Sargassum seaweed was a far cry from the free-floating rafts of the seaweed that more normally shelter this frogfish and many other specialized species. A master of camouflage and an ambush predator, the Sargassumfish stalks its prey on claw-like fins through the fronds of these floating islands, concealed by its tan colour and feathery outline. Greg spotted this individual when returning from a dive on the biodiverse reefs of the Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat. It is an area of the western Pacific Ocean where strong currents converge, bringing with them nutrients that sustain the rich biodiversity. The currents also collect and concentrate anything else that floats – including some of the millions of tonnes of plastic that end up in the oceans each year.

Nikon D7200 + Tokina 10–17mm lens; 1/250 sec at f11; ISO 100; Nauticam housing NAD7200; two Ikelite DS161 strobes.


Flight by Sue Forbes, UK 

Highly commended 2018, Behaviour: Birds 

 Sue Forbes Wildlife Photographer of the Year

For days, Sue scanned rough seas in the Indian Ocean. ‘We’d often see flying fish,’ she says, ‘but only occasionally would there be boobies.’ Then, one morning – northeast of D’Arros Island in the Outer Islands of the Seychelles – she awoke to find tranquil water and a single juvenile red-footed booby, circling. These oceangoing birds – the smallest booby species, with a metre-wide (3-foot) wingspan – spend most of their time at sea, flying long distances with ease. Sharp-eyed, they swoop down to seize prey, mainly squid and flying fish. Their bodies are streamlined for plunge-diving – nostrils closed and wings pinned back – and nimble enough to grab flying fish in mid-air. Before breaking the surface to escape predators such as tuna and marlin, flying fish build up tremendous speed under water, to glide, airborne, on their stiff pectoral fins. Sue kept her eye on the bird. She had no idea when and where a chase might happen. ‘Suddenly, a fish leapt out’, she says, ‘and down came the booby.’ With quick reactions, Sue captured the fleeting moment of the pursuit. The booby missed, and the fish got away.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 300mm f2.8 lens + 1.4x extender; 1/1600 sec at f9; ISO 640.

Glass-house guard by Wayne Jones, Australia

Highly commended 2018, Underwater

 Wayne Jones Wildlife Photographer of the Year

On the sandy seabed off the coast of Mabini in the Philippines, a yellow pygmy goby guards its home – a discarded glass bottle. It is one of a pair, each no more than 4 centimetres (1 and a half inches) long, that have chosen a bottle as a perfect temporary home. The female will lay several batches of eggs, while the male performs guard duty at the entrance. Setting up his camera a few centimetres in front of the bottle’s narrow opening, Wayne positioned his two strobes – one at the base of the bottle to illuminate the interior, and the other at the front to light the goby’s characteristic surprised face. Opting for a shallow depth of field, Wayne focused on the goby’s bulging blue eyes, allowing the movement of the fish to blur the rest of its features into a haze of yellow, and framing its portrait with the circular entrance to the bottle.  

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV + 100mm f2.8 lens + Nauticam super macro converter (SMC-1); 1/200 sec at f8; ISO 200; Nauticam housing; two Sea & Sea strobes. 

Mister Whiskers by Valter Bernardeschi, Italy 

Highly commended 2018, Animal Portraits 

 Valter Bernadeschi Wildlife Photographer of the Year

It was a bright summer’s night when Valter came across the walruses. They were feeding just off an island in the Norwegian archipelago off Svalbard. Putting on his wetsuit, and using a couple of monopod poles and a float to extend his camera in front of him, Valter slipped into the icy water. Immediately, a few curious walruses – mainly youngsters – began swimming towards him. Clumsy on land, these weighty giants now moved with ease and speed. Keeping at pole’s length, he was able to take this intimate portrait of the distinctive whiskered faces of a youngster and its watchful mother. Walruses use their highly sensitive whiskers and snout to search out bivalve molluscs (such as clams) and other small invertebrates on the ocean floor. In the cold water, their thick protective skin appears grey when blood flow to its surface is reduced, but darker, reddish-brown when they are out of water and have warmed up. The tusks are not used for feeding but for display among the males, for defence against polar bears and for hauling themselves out, especially onto sea ice. They will rest on ice floes between bouts of feeding and even give birth on them.

Sony ILCE-7RM2 + 28mm f2.8 lens + ultrawide converter; 1/800 sec at f8; ISO 1250; Nimar II housing; Nikonos remote control; Feisol monopod.


Simple beauty by Theo Bosboom, The Netherlands

Highly commended 2018, Creative Visions

 Theo Bosboom Wildlife Photographer of the Year

In a shallow tidal pool, a colourful cluster of detached fronds of egg wrack and bladder wrack form an abstract pattern against white sand. They have been washed off the rocks surrounding Mangersta Sands, on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. The air-filled bladders of these marine algae keep their fronds floating and exposed to light so they can photosynthesize. Where they are very exposed to wave action, the seaweed may have no bladders, reducing the risk of being swept away if their holdfasts are ripped from the rocks. Using a polarizing filter to avoid reflections and to reveal details beneath the surface, Theo experimented with focal lengths – while waiting for the wind to stop causing ripples and moving the seaweed. He finally settled on this composition, to reveal what he loves: ‘the simple beauty of structures and patterns created by nature itself’.

Canon EOS 5DS R + 70–200mm f2.8 lens at 125mm + polarizing filter; 1/4 sec at f14; ISO 200; Gitzo tripod + Really Right Stuff ballhead.


Eye to eye by Emanuele Biggi, Italy

Highly commended 2018, Animals in their environment

 Emanuele Biggi Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The stench was unbearable as Emanuele searched the carcasses for life. Fed by the sea, the desert coast of Peru’s Paracas National Reserve teems with life. A colony of South American sea lions supplies the corpses – the result of illness, injuries (some from conflict with fisheries) or occasional die-offs triggered by El Niño events (when warming of the sea reduces prey availability). The decaying flesh sustains insects and crustaceans, in turn drawing larger predators. Many of the carcasses were flat or too close to the sea, but eventually, Emanuele found his frame. A young male Peru Pacific iguana (distinctive black chevrons on its throat) had joined the feast within, sheltered from the harsh sun and wind. Lying on the beach, choked by the vile smell until the iguana peeped through the eye socket, Emanuele encapsulated the dependence of terrestrial life on the ocean.

Nikon D810 + Tokina 10–17mm f3.5–4.5 lens at 15mm; 1/125 sec at f18; ISO 100; SB‑R200 flashes + Fotopro DMM-903 bracket.



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