The winners of the Natural History Museum’s (NHM) Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022 competition have been revealed, and as ever, we're in for a treat. This year's top prize was scooped by American photographer Karine Aigner for their beautifully captured shot of a buzzing ball of cactus bees snowballing in the Texas sand.
The photograph shows a behavior known as balling whereby a gang of worker males are all attempting to mate with the single queen in the center. It’s an intense and aggressive behavior, which the judges decided was captured perfectly in this winning image.
“Wings-whirring, incoming males home in on the ball of buzzing bees that is rolling straight into the picture. The sense of movement and intensity is shown at bee-level magnification and transforms what are little cactus bees into big competitors for a single female,” Rosamund ‘Roz’ Kidman Cox OBE, jury chair, said in a statement sent to IFLScience.
This year's competition – which is in its 59th year – saw 38,575 entries from over 90 countries. An international panel of experts had to painstaking trawl through all of these images and judge them on a number of criteria, including originality, narrative, technical excellence, and ethical practice.
From these thousands of entries, the judges settled on 19 category winners. Aigner’s photograph – which also won the “Behaviour: Invertebrates” category – was considered the cream of the crop, landing her with the grand title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022.
The judges also selected Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn, a 16-year-old from Thailand, as Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022. Their image shows a Bryde's whale in the midst of lunge-feeding to eat huge numbers of teeny fish.
“Out of the jaws of a Bryde’s whale comes this dazzling creation. The pin-sharp detail of the tiny anchovies is set against an abstraction of colour with the weave of brown baleen hair rimmed by a cascade of water drops,” said Kidman.
This year's winning images will be on display at the Natural History Museum, London from Friday, October 14, 2022, until Sunday, July 2, 2023.
You can see a selection of this year’s category winners below. If all of this tickles your fancy, you can also check out last year’s winning images.