A Penguin Faces Death by Leopard Seal in Jaw-Dropping Grand Prize Image | Smart News

Wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum awaited the low tide to arrive on the faraway island of Plano, off the Antarctic Peninsula, to snap this year’s World Nature Photography Awards grand prize photo, the Guardian reports. The heart-pounding image under the category “Behavior—Mammals” features a leopard seal about to snatch a young gentoo penguin in its jaws.

Nachoum explains in a statement that just before the low tide arrived, a ravenous leopard seal scanned the shallows for its unsuspecting dinner to arrive. Young Gentoo penguins only enter the water at low tide, so fierce predators like the leopard seal use it to their advantage. As soon as the seal eyed the perfect target, it nabbed the penguin in its teeth and dragged it away.

“Once the seal reached open water, I followed it and swam parallel to it, observing its actions,” Nachoum explains in a statement. “To my surprise, it let go of the penguin twice. Each time, the seal chased after the penguin again, as if it was enjoying the game. The terrified penguin tried to escape as the game continued. But soon, the end came.”

The photography competition was created to celebrate inspiring nature photos that influence audiences to see the world from a different perspective and change their habits to conserve the planet’s beauty, James Cutmore for BBC Science Focus reports.

“As always, it’s such a thrill to see the amazing caliber of entries into the awards,” Adrian Dinsdale, the competition’s co-founder, tells Digg’s James Crugnale. “Seeing these images cannot fail to motivate one to do everything to protect this fragile planet of ours. We offer our heartfelt congratulations to all the winners.” 

The contest is divided into 14 categories based on various species and habitats. Here are the winning photos from each category:

An image of long-tailed macaques embracing each other.

First place in the competition’s “Animal Portraits” category was awarded to Tom Vierus. The image was taken in Bali, Indonesia, and features long-tailed macaques embracing each other.

Tom Vierus/World Nature Photography Awards

An image of a tree frog resting in the middle of a daisy

Shayne Kaye’s image of a Pacific tree frog resting on the middle of a flower won top honors in the “Behavior—Amphibians and Reptiles” category. The image was shot at Outerbridge Park in Victoria Canada. “This shot came out of a ‘nothing’ outing to a local park. It was the middle of a sunny summer day with harsh light and little activity. After going out with low expectations, I came across this tiny Pacific tree frog on a flower,” Kaye writes.

Shayne Kaye/World Nature Photography Awards

An image of an African vulture gorging out the eye of a wildebeest

Ashok Behera’s gruesome image of an African vulture and African fox feasting on a wildbeest took first place in the competition’s “Behavior—Birds” category.

Ashok Behera/World Nature Photography Awards

An image of red ants forming a bridge to cross water

A group red ants will form a bridge with their bodies to cross over watery obstacles. Chin Leong Teo caught the behavior in action in a photo of three ants he snapped in Indonesia. The image won first place in the competition’s “Behaviour—Invertebrates” category.

Chin Leong Teo/World Nature Photography Awards

A black and white image of trees in San Quirico d'orcia, in Tuscany, Italy

Federico Testi took gold in the competition’s “Nature Art” category for his image of light and shadows taken in San Quirico d’orcia, in Tuscany, Italy. Trees standing alone in a vast swirling landscape are the focal point of the image and provide a stark contrast between the foreground, horizon and looming clouds.

Federico Testi/World Nature Photography Awards

An image of an ice cave on the Lake Baikal in Russia

To win gold in the competition’s “People and Nature” category, Sabrina Inderbitzi crawled into this gleaming ice cave on Russia’s frozen Lake Baikal to snap this image, framed by the cave’s interior, of a car and people on the ice in the distance. “First I didn’t like the fact that the car and the people were in the middle of my picture, but then on a second view I found it just perfect,” Inderbitzi writes.

Sabrina Inderbitzi/World Nature Photography Awards

An image of an abandoned house in Goa, India with plants and branches covering the walls.

A stunning photo of a room inside of an abandoned house shrouded by branches, won first place in the “Plants and Fungi” category. Gautam Kamat Bambolkar captured the scene in Goa, India.

Gautam Kamat Bambolkar/World Nature Photography Awards

An image of a humpback whale's tail poking out from the ocean. In the background, a skyline of a city is seen.

Matthijs Noome took first place in the “Urban Wildlife” category for this stunning image of a humpback whale diving against the backdrop of New York City. “Finally got the shot I wanted: a humpback’s fluke with the New York City downtown skyline in the distance. As water quality measures and conservation efforts have started to show real results in recent years, humpback whales are becoming a common sight more frequently in New York waters,” Noome writes.

Matthijs Noome/ World Nature Photography Awards

An image of mountains against a sunset in South Island, New Zealand

Sam Wilson’s image of mountains in South Island, New Zealand, took gold in the category “Planet Earth’s Landscapes and Environments.”

“Travelling down random dirt roads can be so rewarding when you are greeted with scenes like this,” writes Wilson. 

Sam Wilson/World Nature Photography Awards

A black and white photo of an arctic fox bracing the fierce winds in Iceland.

Vince Burton’s image of a rare “blue morph” Arctic fox bracing the fierce, snowy winds in Iceland took first prize for the competition’s “Black and White” category. “The weather conditions were extreme, but that didn’t seem to bother the fox,” Burton writes.

Vince Burton/World Nature Photography Awards

An image of a male orange orangutan holding a tree trunk

In the “Animals in Their Habitat” category, Thomas Vijayan won first place for this photo of a bright orange male orangutan. The image was taken in Borneo. “I was lucky enough to get this fully-grown, matured orangutan giving me the best pose possible,” Vijayan writes.

Thomas Vijayan/World Nature Photography Awards

Robert G. Mull

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