A Penguin Faces Death by Leopard Seal in Jaw-Dropping Grand Prize Image
Winners in this year’s World Nature Photography Awards were selected for 14 different categories varying by species and habitat
This image of a leopard seal about to chomp down on a Gentoo penguin won gold in the "Behavior—Mammals" category. It is also the grand prize winner of the World Nature Photography Awards. Amos Nachoum/World Nature Photography Awards
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:
Animal Portraits: Tom Vierus
Behaviour – Amphibians and Reptiles: Shayne Kaye
Behaviour – Birds: Ashok Behera
Behaviour – Invertebrates: Chin Leong Teo
Nature Art: Federico Testi
People and Nature: Sabrina Inderbitzi
Plants and Fungi: Gautam Kambat Bambolkar
Urban Wildlife: Matthijs Noome
Planet Earth’s Landscapes and Environments: Sam Wilson
Elizabeth Gamillo is a daily correspondent for Smithsonian and a science journalist based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has written for Science magazine as their 2018 AAAS Diverse Voices in Science Journalism Intern.