13 remarkable finalists from the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition showcases the world's best nature photography and photojournalism, seeking to ignite curiosity about the natural world while shining the spotlight on wildlife photography as an art form.
The 2017 competition attracted almost 50,000 entries from professionals and amateurs from 92 countries.
The overall winners of the competition, which is run by the
Natural History Museum, London, will be announced on 17 October. If you're in London, an exhibition of selected photographs will run at the museum from 20 October until early 2018.
Check out some of the remarkable finalists below.
‘The power of the matriarch’: At dusk, in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve, David waited for the herd of elephants on their evening trek to a waterhole. As they got closer to his vehicle, he could see that the mellow light from the fast-setting sun was emphasizing every wrinkle and hair. For a photographer who enjoys working with texture, this was a gift.
‘Sewage surfer’: Seahorses hitch rides on the currents by grabbing floating objects such as seaweed with their delicate prehensile tails. Justin watched with delight as this tiny estuary seahorse ‘almost hopped’ from one bit of bouncing natural debris to the next, bobbing around near the surface on a reef near Sumbawa Island, Indonesia. But as the tide started to come in, the mood changed. The water contained more and more decidedly unnatural objects – mainly bits of plastic – and a film of sewage sludge covered the surface, all sluicing towards the shore. The seahorse let go of a piece of seagrass and seized a long, wispy piece of clear plastic.
‘The insiders’: The bulbous tips of the aptly named magnificent anemone’s tentacles contain cells that sting most fish. But the clown anemonefish goes unharmed thanks to mucus secreted over its skin, which tricks the anemone into thinking it is brushing against itself. Both species benefit. The anemonefish gains protection from its predators, which daren’t risk being stung, and it also feeds on parasites and debris among the tentacles; at the same time, it improves water circulation (fanning its fins as it swims), scares away the anemone’s predators and may even lure in prey for it.
‘Romance among the angels’: Andrey was on an expedition to the Sea of Okhotsk in the Russian Far East, and his intention on this day was to photograph salmon. But as soon as he jumped into the water, he found himself surrounded by thousands of mating sea angels. Quickly swapping to his macro equipment, he began photographing the pairs, 3 centimetres (11⁄4 inches) long and swirling around in the current.
‘Bold eagle’: Finalist 2017, Animal Portraits After several days of constant rain, the bald eagle was soaked to the skin. Named after its conspicuous but fully-feathered white head (bald derives from an old word for white), it is an opportunist, eating various prey – captured, scavenged or stolen – with a preference for fish. At Dutch Harbor on Amaknak Island in Alaska, USA, bald eagles gather to take advantage of the fishing industry’s leftovers. Used to people, the birds are bold. ‘I lay on my belly on the beach surrounded by eagles,’ says Klaus. ‘I got to know individuals, and they got to trust me.’
‘Swim gym’: ‘We were still a few metres from the surface, when I heard the strange noises,’ says Laurent. Suspecting Weddell seals – known for their repertoire of at least 34 different underwater call types – he approached slowly. It was early spring in east Antarctica, and a mother was introducing her pup to the icy water.
‘Resplendent delivery’: Tyohar watched the pair of resplendent quetzals from dawn to dusk for more than a week as they delivered fruits and the occasional insect or lizard to their two chicks. Resplendent quetzals usually nest in thicker forest, but this pair had picked a tree in a partly logged area in the Costa Rican cloud forest of San Gerardo de Dota. The additional light made it easier for Tyohar to catch the iridescent colour of the male’s dazzling emerald and crimson body plumage and tail streamers, despite his fast, erratic flight pattern.
‘Glimpse of a lynx’: Laura had seen many of Spain’s wild animals, but never the illusive Iberian lynx, an endangered cat found only in two small populations in southern Spain. Unlike the larger European lynx, the Iberian lynx feeds almost entirely on rabbits. So a disease that wipes out the rabbit population can be catastrophic. They also need a particular blend of open scrub and natural cavities for natal dens. Laura’s family travelled to the Sierra de Andújar Natural Park in search of the lynx – and struck lucky on their second day – a pair were relaxing not far from the road.
‘Saguaro twist’: A band of ancient giants commands the expansive arid landscape of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert National Monument in the US. These emblematic saguaro cacti – up to 200 years old – may tower at more than 12 metres (40 feet) but are very slow growing, some sprouting upwardly curved branches as they mature.
‘Winter pause’: The red squirrel closed its eyes for just a moment, paws together, fur fluffed, then resumed its search for food. Winter is a tough time for northern animals. Some hibernate to escape its rigours, but not red squirrels. Mats walks every day in the forest near his home in southern Sweden, often stopping to watch the squirrels foraging in the spruce trees.
‘Bear hug’: After fishing for clams at low tide, this mother brown bear was leading her young spring cubs back across the beach to the nearby meadow. But one young cub just wanted to stay and play. It was the moment Ashleigh had been waiting for. She had come to Alaska’s Lake Clark National Park intent on photographing the family life of brown bears.
‘Saved but caged’: A back leg of this six-month-old Sumatran tiger cub was so badly mangled by a snare that it had to be amputated. He was lucky to survive at all, having been trapped for four days before being discovered in a rainforest in Aceh Province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The likelihood is that the snare was set by oil‐palm plantation workers to catch bushmeat (though tigers are also deliberately snared).
‘Arctic treasure’: Carrying its trophy from a raid on a snow goose nest, an Arctic fox heads for a suitable burial spot. This is June and bonanza time for the foxes of Wrangel Island in the Russian Far East. Lemmings are the basic diet for Arctic foxes, but Wrangel suffers long, harsh winters and is ice‐bound for much of the year, making it a permanent source of stored food for these opportunist animals.