The enormous threat posed by waste plastic to our oceans has been highlighted in this year’s Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. The photograph of a seahorse with its tail wrapped around a plastic cotton bud illustrates how seemingly innocuous household items can find their way into the marine environment.
The image is just one of 13 chosen from more than 50,000 entries from 92 countries. Other finalist images include seals swirling beneath ice, two bears nuzzling, and a tiger baring its teeth from inside a cage.
The annual competition, which is now in its 53rd year, is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum in London. The competition winners will be announced on October 17 and the exhibition will run from October 20th until spring 2018.
The museum says the competition showcases “Earth’s most extraordinary and revelatory sights, reflecting nature’s beauty and diversity and highlighting the fragility of wildlife on our planet.”
Indonesia has the world’s highest levels of marine biodiversity but is second only to China as a contributor to marine plastic debris. Indonesia has committed to reducing ocean waste by 70%. ‘Sewage surfer’ Justin Hofman / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.`
In east Antarctica a Weddell seal introduces her pup to the icy water. ‘Swim gym’ Laurent Ballesta / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
A back leg of this six-month-old Sumatran tiger cub was so badly mangled by a snare that it had to be amputated. He was lucky to survive at all, having been trapped for four days before being discovered in a rainforest in Aceh province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. ‘Saved but caged’ Steve Winter / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
At Dutch Harbor on Amaknak Island in Alaska, US, bald eagles gather to take advantage of the fishing industry’s leftovers. The species was declining dramatically until the 1960s, but reduced persecution, habitat protection and a ban on the pesticide DDT has led to its recovery. ‘Bold eagle’ Klaus Nigge / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
After fishing for clams at low tide, this mother brown bear leads her young spring cubs back across the beach to the nearby meadow. But one young cub just wants to stay and play. ’Bear hug’ Ashleigh Scully / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
The elusive Iberian lynx is an endangered cat found only in two small populations in southern Spain. ‘Glimpse of a lynx’ Laura Albiac Vilas / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Resplendent quetzals work from dawn to dusk for more than a week to deliver fruits and the occasional insect or lizard to their two chicks. ‘Resplendent delivery’ Tyohar Kastiel / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Mating sea angels, measuring just three centimetres long, in the Sea of Okhotsk in the Russian Far East. Sea angels are molluscs related to slugs and snails. ‘Romance among the angels’ Andrey Narchuk / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Saguaro cacti in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert National Monument can grow up to 200 years old and tower at more than 12 metres. ‘Saguaro twist’ Jack Dykinga / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
A red squirrel in southern Sweden closes its eyes for just a moment, paws together, fur fluffed, before resuming its search for food. ‘Winter pause’ Mats Andersson / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Carrying its trophy from a raid on a snow goose nest, an Arctic fox heads for a suitable burial spot. This is June and bonanza time for the foxes of Wrangel Island in the Russian Far East. ‘Arctic treasure’ Sergey Gorshkov / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
The power of the matriarch’ David Lloyd / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
‘The insiders’ Qing Lin / Wildlife Photographer of the Year. The clown anemone fish goes unharmed by the stinging tentacles of the anemone thanks to mucus secreted over its skin, which tricks the anemone into thinking it is brushing against itself.