Proving that good things come to those who wait, French underwater photographer and biologist Laurent Ballesta has been crowned the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Ballesta defeated more than 50,000 other entries from 95 countries to win the top prize in the annual event from the UK’s Natural History Museum.
His work Creation was captured in Fakarava, French Polynesia.
Every year for five years, Ballesta and his team have returned to the same lagoon, diving day and night so as not to miss the annual spawning of camouflage groupers that only takes place around the full moon in July.
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The chair of the judging panel, writer and editor, Rosamund “Roz” Kidman Cox said the image worked on many levels.
”It is surprising, energetic, and intriguing and has an otherworldly beauty. It also captures a magical moment –a truly explosive creation of life – leaving the tail-end of the exodus of eggs hanging for a moment like a symbolic question mark.”
Dr Doug Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum, added that the image was a glimpse into a “hidden underwater world” calling it “a fleeting moment of fascinating animal behaviour that very few have witnessed”.
He added: “In what could be a pivotal year for the planet, with vital discussions taking place at COP15 and COP26, Laurent Ballesta’s Creation is a compelling reminder of what we stand to lose if we do not address humanity’s impact on our planet. The protection provided to this endangered species by the biosphere reserve highlights the positive difference we can make.”
Proving that age is no barrier to talent, the Young Photographer of the Year award went to 10-year-old Vidyun R Hebbar from India for his colourful image, Dome home, of a tent spider just as a tuk-tuk passes by.
The overall winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year gets £10,000 (NZ$19,600), plus a trophy and a personalised certificate.
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum in the UK, with more details at www.nhm.ac.uk/wpy The competition for 2022 opens up on October 18.
You can view more of the winners in the video at the top of this article.