Otherworldly image of underwater creation nets Wildlife Photographer of the Year prize
The winners of this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition 2021 have just been announced, and an extraordinary underwater scene is the winner.
French biologist and underwater photographer Laurent Ballesta has been announced as this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his enigmatic image, Creation, that captures camouflage groupers exiting their milky cloud of eggs and sperm in Fakarava, French Polynesia.
Every year, for five years, Laurent and his team returned to this lagoon, diving day and night so as not to miss the annual spawning that only takes place around the full Moon in July. After dark, they were joined by hundreds of grey reef sharks, hunting the groupers in packs. Overfishing threatens this vulnerable species, but here the fish are protected within a special biosphere reserve.
Ten-year old Vidyun R Hebbar was awarded the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021 for his colourful image, Dome home. Vidyun first featured in the competition when he was just eight years old and loves to photograph the often-overlooked creatures that live in the streets and parks near his home in the city of Bengaluru, India.
The two Grand Title winners were selected from 19 category winners that celebrate the captivating beauty of our natural world with rich habitats, enthralling animal behaviour and extraordinary species.
Displayed alongside insights from Natural History Museum scientists and experts, the 100 images will be showcased in spectacular lightbox displays at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum, opening on 15 October 2021, before touring across the UK and around the world.
Overall winner - Creation
Winner under 10 years and overall young winner - Dome home
Winner 11-14 years - High-flying jay
Winner plants and fungi - Rich reflections
Winner 11-14 years - Sunflower songbird
Winner urban wildlife - The spider room
Winner behaviour: mammals - Head to head
Winner behaviour: amphibians and reptiles - Where the giant newts breed
Winner wetlands - Road to ruin
Winner photojournalist story award - The healing touch
Winner behaviour: birds - The intimate touch
Winner natural artistry - Bedazzled
Take a look at some of our other image galleries:
- Up to our necks - Wildlife Photographer of the Year highly commended images
- The best images in science September 2021
- Glowing alien squid is the star attraction in the Ocean Photography Awards
Winner oceans: the bigger picture - Nursery meltdown
Winner behaviour: Invertebrates - Spinning the cradle
Winner photojournalism - The elephant in the room
Winner animals in their environment - Grizzly leftovers
Winner animal portraits - Reflection
Winner portfolio award - Face-off
Winner rising star portfolio award - Cool time
James Cutmore is the picture editor of BBC Science Focus Magazine, researching striking images for the magazine and on the website. He is also has a passion for taking his own photographs