Wildlife Photographer of the Year is a highly prestigious award that is presented by the Natural History Museum in London. In 2021, the top prize went to underwater photographer and biologist Laurent Ballesta. The jury appreciated his photograph “Creation” (Creation), which he took in the waters of French Polynesia.
The photo that gave the author the victory shows goliath groupery in a mating dance. It is worth noting that the work was among 50 thousand other entries from 95 countries! All the more reason to appreciate what an extraordinary distinction the Wildlife Photographer of the Year award is. Laurent Ballesta is also the first French photographer to win the competition.
This cloud of fish eggs, whose fate is so uncertain, has taken the telling shape of a question mark. I see it as a symbol – the uncertainty hanging over the future of global biodiversity. Even in places as pristine as the Fakarava Island Reserve. For me, this award is a tribute to this beautiful place. It shows that conservation is the key to preserving this precious heritage – explains Laurent Ballesta
Because the competition is so popular, the selection of the winners must be very meticulous. Therefore, each competition entry was evaluated anonymously by a panel of experts, and the originality of the work, the narrative used, technical excellence and ethics were taken into account.
For five years, Laurent Ballesta and his team returned at the time of the July full moon. They dived day and night to capture the spawning run, which can involve up to 20,000 fish gathered in a narrow channel between the ocean and the lagoon. After dark, the goliath gropers were joined by hundreds of reef sharks hunting for eggs.
Every year for five years my team and I returned to this lagoon in French Polynesia. We dived day and night so as not to miss the annual spawning of goliath groupers. It should be noted that this only takes place around the July full moon – Ballesta concludes
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition will open this Friday, 15 October, at the Natural History Museum in London. The work awarded in 19 categories will then travel across the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, the USA and many other countries.
Photo: Laurent Ballesta/NaturalHistory Museum – Wildlife Photographer of the Year
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