Every year, London’s Natural History Museum (NHM) ask the world to show off its wildlife photography skills, and the finalists for the competition showcase not just human creativity, but the remarkable, endless forms of life we’re surrounded by. This year featured nearly 50,000 entries from both professionals and amateurs across 95 countries, and only 100 made it through to the last round.
Here’s a selection of some of the most visually arresting imagery provided by a whole host of shutterbugs, but if you’d like to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition itself, pay a visit to the NHM on October 21 this year when it officially opens to the public.
If you can’t make it to London, then don’t fret – the images will travel to six continents, bringing the beauty of the natural world to somewhere nearby.
1 – Tentacle tornado
A maelstrom of Cape box jellyfish moves around in the waters. The thousands of swarming jellyfish here are likely involved in some sort of reproductive procedure. “Some box jellyfish were inside the bell of another, perhaps as part of a mating ritual. I sent this image to a researcher who said they had never seen a sight like this before,” Geo Cloete, the photographer, told IFLScience.
These jellyfish are notorious for their powerful, sometimes fatal venom, so to take a photograph like this entailed a considerable risk. “The one in the middle of the photograph was brushing the lens of my camera,” Cloete noted.
Credit: Geo Cloete, from South Africa/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
2 – Wild West stand-off
A grizzly bear charges at ravens trying to grab a piece of the bison road-kill feast. This breathtaking shot was taken in Grand Teton National Park, which is part of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem in the western United States.
Credit: Charlie Hamilton James, from the UK/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
3 – Battle of the big fish
These two male dusky groupers are engaged in a violent, full-on territorial battle in the Azores. Weighing up to 60 kilograms (132 pounds), they vie for their own space when mating season begins. Curiously, these fish all begin as females, but some turn into males around the age of 12.
Credit: Jordi Chias Pujol, from Spain/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
4 – Crabzilla
This dramatic shadow belongs to an impressively sizable coconut crab – one that’s about a meter (3.3 feet) across. These formidable crustaceans are perfectly at home in the Seychelles atoll of Aldabra.
Credit: Thomas P Peschak, from Germany & South Africa/Wildlife Photographer of the Year