From a baby hippo in the jaws of death to a noose-tied endangered sea turtle, the first batch of "Highly Commended" images for the Natural History Museum's 55th Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition capture some of the world's most extraordinary wildlife moments.
Judges scoured through more than 48,000 entries from 100 countries to come up with the highly commended photos across a wide range of categories.
“The Natural History Museum’s acclaimed Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and exhibition ignites curiosity about the natural world by showcasing Earth's extraordinary diversity and highlighting the fragility of wildlife on our planet,” the Museum said in a statement sent to IFLScience.
“Using the unique emotive power of photography, the competition inspires people to think differently about their relationship with nature and become advocates for the planet.”
Winners will be announced on October 15. The exhibition runs from October 18, 2019 to May 31, 2020 at the Natural History Museum, London.
Beach waste, Wildlife Photojournalism
Photographer Matthew Ware was working with the strandings patrol team at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama when he spotted this Kemp's ridley sea turtle with a deadly noose around its neck attached to the beach chair. Measuring just 65 centimeters (26 inches) long, this species of sea turtle is one of the smallest and most endangered. Human activities have reduced their numbers and though protections of nesting grounds and specific fishing regulations aim to protect the animal, discarded fishing gear and garbage threaten the species.
Touching trust, Wildlife Photojournalism
A young grey whale approaches pair of hands from a tourist boat in San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja California, Mexico. Here, mothers and their calves often interact with tourists who visit the endangered species' winter breeding ground.
Cool drink, Behavior: Birds
For several days, a flock of long-tailed and marsh tits hydrated by nibbling the tip of this icicle while temperatures hovered around -20°C (-4°F). If the Sun came out and heated up the icicle, photographer Diana Rebman says the next tit in line would sip instead. Pictured is a Hokkaido long-tailed tit.
Sleeping like a Weddell, Black and White
A Weddell seal rests safely on ice protected from killer whale and leopard seal predators in Larsen Harbour, South Georgia. Reaching lengths of up to 3.5 meters (11.5 feet), Weddell seals feed mainly on large fish that they hunt at depths of up to 500 meters (1,640 feet). Thriving in the inshore habitats around the Antarctic continent, Wedell seals are the most southerly breeding mammals.
The wall of shame, Wildlife Photojournalism
Rattlesnake skins pinned to a white wall are surrounded by a series of bloody handprints by people who skinned the snakes at the annual rattlesnake roundup in Sweetwater, Texas. Snake hunters use gasoline to flush the snakes out of their winter dens where they are kept in poor conditions before being brought to the four-day springtime festival where participants pay to skin them.
The hair-net cocoon, Behavior: Invertebrates
The delicate cocoon of a Cyna moth pupa is found along a wall in southwest China's Xishuangbanna rainforest. Measuring just 4 centimeters (1.5 inches) long, the small cocoon provides protection against predators as the pupa begins its transformation into a white, red, and black moth.
The climbing dead, Plants and Fungi
Three projections growing out of its thorax were the fruiting bodies of a "zombie fungus". The virus feeds off of the weevil as it spread inside the bug while it is alive before taking control of its muscles, forcing it to climb to heights in the Peruvian Amazon. The fungus then grows fruiting bodies with spore-releasing capsules for the next victim.
Canopy hangout, Young Wildlife Photographers: 11 to 14 years old
A photo taken in Panama's Soberania National Park shows an adult male brown-throated three-toed sloth so characterized by its bright orange fur and a dark stripe down the middle of its back. The young photographer captured the side profile of the animal in order to show its key features: three hooked claws, mask-like eye strop, and coarse fur
Last gasp, Behavior: Animals
A newborn hippo is attacked by a bull in Zimbabwe's Lake Kariba. It tried to both drown and crush it as the mother could only look on.
Jelly baby, Under Water
A juvenile jackfish uses a small jellyfish as an overnight shelter to protect against predators in French Polynesia's Tahiti. The image was taken at a depth of 20 meters (65 feet).
If penguins could fly, Behavior: Mammals
A gentoo penguin flees as a leopard seal bursts out of the water in an attempt to capture it. The photograph was snapped off the Antarctic Peninsula coast near the penguin's colony on Cuverville Island.