The 52nd annual ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ (WPY) competition has recently released a preview of this year’s finalists. A killer whale feeding on herring beneath a fishing boat, a hungry hornbill eating a termite, mayflies swarming around under a starry night sky, are among the spectacular images that stood out for judges as the very best wildlife photograhy.

It all started in 1965. There were about 500 entries back then, but now, more than fifty years later, it attracted almost 50,000 of them from professionals and amateurs from 95 countries. The WPY52 exhibition will be on display from the 21st of October at Natural History Museum, London. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Splitting the catch © Audun Rikardsen, taken in Norway

Sometimes it’s the fishing boats that look for killer whales and humpbacks, hoping to locate the shoals of herring that migrate to these Arctic Norwegian waters. But the whales have also recently started to follow these boats. This image by Auden Rikardsen shows a large male killer whale feeding on herring that have been squeezed out of the boat’s closing fishing net.

Thistle-plucker: By Isaac Aylward, of the UK.
Thistle-plucker: By Isaac Aylward, of the UK.

Try keeping a flying linnet in sight while scrambling down rocky embankments holding a telephoto lens. Isaac did, for 20 minutes. He was determined to keep pace with the linnet, which he spotted while hiking in Bulgaria’s Rila Mountains, finally catching up with the tiny bird when it settled to feed on a thistle flowerhead.

Swarming under the stars: By Imre Potyó, of Hungary.

After a few decades, the Danube mayfly (Ephoron virgo) have returned to the river Danube, probably due to the increasing water quality. The photographer said: ‘The fantastic mass swarming of these mayflies is one of the most exciting phenomenon for me. My image was taken in a dark, near-natural bank on a tributary of the Danube with long exposure, flash and flashlight. Unfortunately, the lamp-lit bridges have negative influence to them, because they are attracted to the lamps, become exhausted, lay their eggs to the asphalt roads of the bridge and perish immediately. The team of the Danube Research Institute in cooperation with the Environmental Optics Laboratory plan to solve this biooptical and environmental problem. This image is very precious to me as I can draw the attention to these spectacular water insects and their complex ecological light trap.’

Termite tossing: By Willem Kruger, from South Africa.
Termite tossing: By Willem Kruger, from South Africa.

Termite after termite after termite – using the tip of its massive beak-like forceps to pick them up, the hornbill flicks them in the air and then swallows them. Foraging beside a track in South Africa’s semi-arid Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, the southern yellow-billed hornbill was deeply absorbed in snacking.

To see the entire list of 2016 finalists, please visit the Daily Mail.

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