Baby wombats in lockdown and sea lion meets seadragon: 2022’s best wildlife shots
Photos of wombats in lockdown and an undersea meeting between a sea lion and a leafy seadragon have led two Australians to be honoured at the London Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards, one of the world’s most prestigious photography competitions.
Melbourne photojournalist Doug Gimesy snapped a shot of Emily Small, founder of the Goongerah wombat orphanage, working on a couch during the city’s lockdown with two orphans, named Landon and Bronson, sleeping in a pouch.
“To help prepare them for a life in the wild, including getting their gut ready with appropriate microbes, Emily would let them nibble on grass and dirt she had brought from their natural habitat 450 kilometres away, and give them sticks to chew on. But like rodent teeth, their teeth never stop growing, so they would often gnaw on things to wear them down, like her furniture,” Gimesy said.
“She could only leave her apartment for about an hour a time during this period – which was when they were napping.”
Gimesy said he hoped the image, highly commended in the photojournalism category of the awards, would draw attention to the stress that wildlife carers faced plunging straight into lockdown after being inundated with injured animals from the Black Summer bushfires.
Scott Portelli was floating above the kelp beds off the coast of Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia, when he spotted a leafy seadragon.
His focus on the elaborate bony fish also sparked the interest of an endangered Australia sea lion, who was just as curious as the photographer.
Portelli and Gimesy’s photos were in the top 100 of more than 40,000 submissions from wildlife photographers from around the world.
Portelli shared on Instagram that being in “the most prestigious photography competition in the world” was “one of the greatest moments of my photographic career”.
US photographer Karine Aigner was named wildlife photographer of the year for her shot of a bundle of cactus bees rolling across desert sand in Texas. The photo captures competing male bees swarming over a female at the centre of the bundle in an attempt to mate.
Chairwoman of the jury Rosamund “Roz” Kidman Cox, former editor of Wildlife Magazine which founded the awards in 1965, said, “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.”
Aigner is the fifth woman in the competition’s history to win the major gong.
Other highlights include a spawning giant sea star surrounded by filaments of sperm and eggs that resemble bolts of electricity, captured by Tony Wu in Japan’s Kinko Bay. The photo won the undersea category award.
As he fled a storm on a yacht, Russian photographer Dmitry Kokh snapped an arresting drone shot of two polar bears that had broken into an abandoned hut on Kolyuchin Island, Russia. The photo won the urban wildlife category award.
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