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Humpback whale leaps from the sea in a breathtaking photograph shortlisted for top wildlife prize

A series of breathtaking pictures shortlisted for a top wildlife photography award include a humpback whale leaping from the sea in California, an eagle fighting a fox in Japan, and bighorn rams coming to blows in Canada.

The humpback whale performed the stunt for snapper Douglas Croft in California’s Monterey Bay as it breached meters from a fisherman’s boat, towering above the vessel as it leapt out of the sea.

Another picture, of a beautiful snowy owl flying towards the camera in Missaukee County, Michigan was captured by 14-year-old bird lover and photographer John Fortener while he was sitting in his mother’s car. 

A golden snub-nosed monkey was snapped clinging to its mother in China as she balanced on a thin branch.

Similarly, a baby elephant took centre stage in a ‘fortress of mighty legs’ during a Kenyan sunrise as the herd marched for a morning feats. Elephants position their young in the middle of the herd for protection.

Also in Kenya, a band of flamingos was pictured from a helicopter flying over a lake where saline expanse minerals catch the sunlight, forming swirls across the water. In Japan, an eagle was pictured fending off a red fox – the duelling pair contrasted against the snow behind them. 

The National Wildlife Magazine’s photo contest had over 40,000 entries. The Grand Prize winner of the 2021 contest was an orangutan escaping flooded forest floor, highlighting the impact deforestation has on wildlife.

Thomas Vijayan caught the breathtaking snap, which shows a male orangutan climbing up a tree from a flooded forest floor that reflects the sky, in Borneo, Indonesia. 

A huge humpback whale breaches off a boat’s stern in California’s Monterey Bay. The photographer, on another boat, was able to capture the moment as the whale towered above the boat, creating this dramatic perspective

A male orangutan climbs up a tree, away from a flooded forest below him. The clear water below reflects the sky in Borneo, Indonesia. The area of forest is set aside to protect the endangered primates, whose habitat is being destroyed for palm oil plantations

A male orangutan climbs up a tree, away from a flooded forest below him. The clear water below reflects the sky in Borneo, Indonesia. The area of forest is set aside to protect the endangered primates, whose habitat is being destroyed for palm oil plantations

On the frozen shores of Hokkaido Island in the far north of Japan, a white eagle is photographed fighting a brazen red fox that moved in to try and grab a bite of the eagle's food. In the region, competition for food can breed such conflict

On the frozen shores of Hokkaido Island in the far north of Japan, a white eagle is photographed fighting a brazen red fox that moved in to try and grab a bite of the eagle’s food. In the region, competition for food can breed such conflict

A young, golden snub-nosed monkey clings to its more sure-footed mother as she makes her way through the tree branches is China’s Qinling Mountains. She looks up, preparing to leap to the next branch

A young, golden snub-nosed monkey clings to its more sure-footed mother as she makes her way through the tree branches is China’s Qinling Mountains. She looks up, preparing to leap to the next branch

A pair of bighorn rams native to North America crash their horns together in an age-old dance of dominance. The photographer captured a moment of near-perfect symmetry as the two rams come together, locked in eye contact

A pair of bighorn rams native to North America crash their horns together in an age-old dance of dominance. The photographer captured a moment of near-perfect symmetry as the two rams come together, locked in eye contact

An early morning scene in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve shows a group of elephants moving towards the Musiara Marsh for a morning feast, with a small baby elephant trotting amongst the herd, that surrounds its young for protection

An early morning scene in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve shows a group of elephants moving towards the Musiara Marsh for a morning feast, with a small baby elephant trotting amongst the herd, that surrounds its young for protection

This picture, taken by 14-year-old John Fortener in Missaukee County, Michigan, captures the moment a stunning snowy owl took flight towards him as he photographed the bird in a field

This picture, taken by 14-year-old John Fortener in Missaukee County, Michigan, captures the moment a stunning snowy owl took flight towards him as he photographed the bird in a field

A crab-eating macaques live Lopburi, Thailand climbs along the top of a rusty fence as a gust of wind picks up a piece of old newspaper, which flies into the money's face for a fleeting moment, captured in this photograph. Some 4,500 of the animals live in Lopburi, and early in the pandemic became a nuisance to the locals when food - usually supplied by tourists - dried up

A crab-eating macaques live Lopburi, Thailand climbs along the top of a rusty fence as a gust of wind picks up a piece of old newspaper, which flies into the money’s face for a fleeting moment, captured in this photograph. Some 4,500 of the animals live in Lopburi, and early in the pandemic became a nuisance to the locals when food – usually supplied by tourists – dried up

This larval blanket octopus is only about the size of a golf ball, and the photographer was using nothing but a small handheld torch to search out small sea creatures about 30 feet below the surface in Anilao in the Philippines

This larval blanket octopus is only about the size of a golf ball, and the photographer was using nothing but a small handheld torch to search out small sea creatures about 30 feet below the surface in Anilao in the Philippines

A green bottle fly lands on the remains of a groundhog, likely killed by a car in Sainte-Adèle, Québec, Canada

A green bottle fly lands on the remains of a groundhog, likely killed by a car in Sainte-Adèle, Québec, Canada

This photograph was captured by 16-year-old photographer Addie Leimroth, while he was searching in the Arizona desert for snakes. he found this snake, a gopher snake, wound within the spines of an ocotillo plant

This photograph was captured by 16-year-old photographer Addie Leimroth, while he was searching in the Arizona desert for snakes. he found this snake, a gopher snake, wound within the spines of an ocotillo plant

Leaving a weave of footprints in the snow behind them, a group of Tibetan antelopes walk up the slope of a sand dune in China's harsh, high-elevation Kumukuli Desert, known to many as being a 'no-man's land'

Leaving a weave of footprints in the snow behind them, a group of Tibetan antelopes walk up the slope of a sand dune in China’s harsh, high-elevation Kumukuli Desert, known to many as being a ‘no-man’s land’

A graceful flock of flamingos fly in formation above Kenya’s Lake Magadi, a saline expanse whose minerals catch the sunlight, forming swirls across the water. The photographer captured this image from above in a helicopter

A graceful flock of flamingos fly in formation above Kenya’s Lake Magadi, a saline expanse whose minerals catch the sunlight, forming swirls across the water. The photographer captured this image from above in a helicopter

A sea anemone shines like a jewel surrounded by colorful pebbles in a tide pool on Bates Beach in central California

A sea anemone shines like a jewel surrounded by colorful pebbles in a tide pool on Bates Beach in central California

This photograph from St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in Florida shows a wild roseate spoonbill nesting near a walkway, that allowed the photographer to get up close and take this picture as the perfect light came over it. The image captures the variety of colors in the bird's feathers

This photograph from St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in Florida shows a wild roseate spoonbill nesting near a walkway, that allowed the photographer to get up close and take this picture as the perfect light came over it. The image captures the variety of colors in the bird’s feathers

The photographer behind this image stopped t take in the view and build a small snowman on a ridgeline in Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park. Perhaps thinking it was food, this raven swooped down to inspect the creation

The photographer behind this image stopped t take in the view and build a small snowman on a ridgeline in Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park. Perhaps thinking it was food, this raven swooped down to inspect the creation

The above four photographs are from a series that won the best portfolio award in the National Wildlife Photo Contest. The photographer began visiting public gardens during the coronavirus lockdown, and captures this series of macro images showing pollinators, such as bees (top three) and a Sphecid wasp (bottom)

The above four photographs are from a series that won the best portfolio award in the National Wildlife Photo Contest. The photographer began visiting public gardens during the coronavirus lockdown, and captures this series of macro images showing pollinators, such as bees (top three) and a Sphecid wasp (bottom)

This landscape shot of Kauai, Hawaii won the Landscapes & Plants category of the competition. The photographer described the conditions over the iconic Na Pali Coast as 'once in a lifetime', with a passing storm and sunset creating incredible light

This landscape shot of Kauai, Hawaii won the Landscapes & Plants category of the competition. The photographer described the conditions over the iconic Na Pali Coast as ‘once in a lifetime’, with a passing storm and sunset creating incredible light


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