We live in a beautiful world full of wholesome moments. But this world also has its share of terrifying moments and pictures, which remind us that the world can be dark. This image of a leopard seal trying to eat a Gentoo penguin is a great example. Amos Nachoum took this photo on a remote island off the Antarctic Peninsula during the low tide in the area.
Nachoum's image, titled "Facing Reality" won the grand prize of The 2021 World Nature Photography Awards. Also handed to him was the World Nature Photographer of the Year title. Nachoum wrote:
For hours, I waited for the low tide to arrive along a shallow lagoon on a remote island off the Antarctic Peninsula. Like clockwork, the leopard seal arrived in the lagoon just before low tide. It put its head in the water and looked just like a rock sitting in the receding water. The young Gentoo penguins only dare to enter the water when it is shallow and when they got close enough to the seal, it turned its head at lightning speed, catching one of the penguins by its feet and taking it to deep water. Once the seal reached open water, I followed it and swam parallel to it, observing its actions. 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.
As I said before, we live in a beautiful world, as shown by the other pictures submitted in the competition, like this picture of macaques enjoying each other's warmth.
Here are some of the pictures from the 2021 World Nature Photography Awards. You may also submit photos to the website for this year's competition.
Image: Amos Nachoum
Behavior - Birds
This amazing photo of a dead wildebeest's eye being pecked and gorged by an African vulture while a fox looked on was taken by photographer Ashok Behera in Masai Mara, Kenya.
Image: Ashok Behera
Italian photographer Federico Testi won Gold in the category Nature Art of the World Nature Photography Awards with this black and white landscape photo of San Quirico d'orcia in Tuscany, Italy.
Image: Federico Testi
People and Nature
Sabrina Inderbitzi crawled into an ice cave on the frozen Lake Baikal in Russia to take this photo of people mingling in front of a car through the opening of the cave.
Image: Sabrina Inderbitzi
Plants and Fungi
Photographer Gautam Kamat Bambolkar took a photo of the entrance of an abandoned house in Goa, India. He remarked, "It is fascinating how mother nature takes over from where man has left."
Image: Guatam Kamat Bambolkar
Planet Earth's Landscapes and Environments
Gold in the Planet Earth's Landscapes and Environments category of the 2021 World Nature Photography Awards went to photographer Sam Wilson of Australia. The photo was taken while traveling down a random dirt road on South Island, New Zealand.
Image: Sam Wilson
Black and White
Vince Burton of the United Kingdom won Gold in the Black and White photo category with this shot of a rare "blue morph" Arctic fox in the middle of a snowstorm.
Image: Vince Burton
Animals in Their Habitat
Thomas Vijayan of Canada took a photo of fully grown orangutan. He noted that the large, flappy cheek-pads of the orangutan, known as flanges, are made to make loud verbalizations called long calls.
Image: Thomas Vijayan
Photographer Alain Schroeder of Belgium took this photo of Brenda, a 3-month-old baby orangutan being prepped for surgery on her humerus bone in the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) Quarantine Centre in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Brenda was confiscated from a villager who was keeping her as a pet.
Image: Alain Schroeder