A vanishing seal, a coot on ice and a hidden stargazer fish are just a few of the water-related images featured in the 59th Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
The Natural History Museum, London, will unveil the latest Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition showcasing 100 photographs from around the world on 13 October 2023.
This year’s competition attracted 49,957 entries from photographers of all ages and experience levels from 95 countries. Entries were judged on their creativity, originality, and technical excellence by an international panel of experts.
"We felt a powerful tension between wonder and woe that we believe came together to create a thought-provoking collection of photographs."
The winners of each category will be announced on 10 October 2023 at an awards ceremony hosted by wildlife TV presenters and conservationists Chris Packham and Megan McCubbin. Among the newly released highly commended images are:
Zhai Zeyu waited in the cold, watching coots as they endeavoured to move across a frozen pond in northeast China. This coot had been scrambling in the water for food and eventually caught a loach.
Shashwat Harish was on a trip to the Maasai Mara when he heard a leopard had been spotted nearby. After he spent many hours in a vehicle, searching and waiting, the leopard appeared and Shashwat quickly changed lenses and settings to obtain this portrait.
Pietro Formis discovers a Mediterranean stargazer, an ambush predator fish, peering through the sandy floor in coastal waters. Combining the concentrated light from the flash with a slow shutter speed and deliberate movement from his camera, Pietro presents the stargazer lit through a curtain of turquoise water.
Alex Mustard shows the biodiversity of a healthy coral reef as ghost gobies swim within the branches of a sea fan. Capturing the vibrant, contrasting colours meant holding steady in the current to get a long enough exposure.
Chair of the judging panel, Kathy Moran says, "What most impressed the jury was the range of subjects, from absolute beauty, rarely seen behaviours and species, to images that are stark reminders of what we are doing to the natural world. We felt a powerful tension between wonder and woe that we believe came together to create a thought-provoking collection of photographs."
Dr Doug Gurr, director of the Natural History Museum says, "We are facing urgent biodiversity and climate crises, and photography is a powerful catalyst for change. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition reveals some of nature’s most wondrous sights whilst offering hope and achievable actions visitors can take to help protect the natural world."
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London. After the launch of the flagship exhibition, it will embark on a UK and international tour.