The winners of the 2022 BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition celebrate life cycles and natural resilience. The California Academy of Sciences puts on the contest, which judges photos that capture nature in eight different categories. This year’s competition encouraged photographers to submit images showcasing life on Earth and illustrated some of the planet’s threats, Alan Taylor for the Atlantic reports.
“Each photo, in its own way, inspires viewers to protect and conserve the remarkable diversity of life on Earth,” notesbioGraphic, the Academy’s online magazine of nature and conservation, and the official media sponsor of the BigPicture competition.
The grand prize was awarded to photojournalist Karine Aigner for her image titled Bee Balling. The image, taken in South Texas, shows cactus bees (Diadasia rinconis) in a rare and intimate moment as they swarm into a ball for a chance to mate with one female bee. The ritual lasts only 20 seconds before the ball disbands, and the female bee flies away with the triumphant male clinging onto her back, Popular Science's Stephanie Stone reports.
"We don't often see small organisms in Grand Prize images," says Suzi Eszterhas, BigPicture Jury Chair, in a statement. "Aigner was able to capture a rare and tiny phenomenon and turn it into something spectacular. Observing this mating ball from the lowest point possible gives us an intimate perspective of this unusual behavior."
Winning photographs from the eight categories were selected from more than 7,000 submissions that came from 65 countries. All stunning images will be on display at the California Academy of Sciences in the fall for visitors to view and are published online at bioGraphic.
Check out the first-place winners in each category below:
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.