The best wildlife photos of the year show a curious grizzly, dueling reindeer, and fish swimming through a cloud of sperm

Laurent Ballesta/Wildlife Photographer Award
The London Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the year contest recognizes images that show the fragility and diversity of life.

The contest attracted more than 50,000 entries this year from 95 countries.

These winning photos feature reindeer fighting for mates, seals giving life, and a mountain gorilla enjoying rain.

Overfishing is causing the camouflage grouper to decline, but the fish start to multiply each July under a full moon.

Laurent Ballesta, a biologist, has been returning to Fakarava, French Polynesia, every July for five years to photograph the spawning of groupers. His team dived night and day to take photos of the fish darting in clouds of eggs, sperm and fertile tropical waters.

Ballesta called "Creation" the result of this effort. It won the Grand Title award in 2021 Wildlife Photographer Of The Year contest. The competition was created and produced by London's Natural History Museum. It aims to show the fragility and diversity of our planet's wildlife. On Tuesday, the museum announced its winners.

The contest attracted more entries this year than ever before, with more than 50,000 photos submitted by photographers from 95 countries. "Creation", however, stood out.

The image is so versatile. It is captivating, energetic, intriguing, and has an otherworldly look," Roz KidmanCox, who was the chair of the judges panel, stated in a statement. It also captures a magical time - a truly explosive creation life - leaving the egg exodus' tail end hanging for a moment as a symbol of a question mark.

Another 19 category winning photo shows the destruction caused by climate change and environmental degradation. These photos show dead coral and melting sea ice as well as declining animal populations. Many of these images are also a snapshot of persistence: creatures procreating and fighting for their mates as well as caring for their young.

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The Grand Title for Youth Photographers was won by a photo of an inconspicuous Spider.

Vidyun R. Hebbar/Wildlife Photographer Award

Vidyun Hebbar (10 years old) was visiting a theme park in Bengaluru, India when he saw a tent spider hidden in a crack in a wall. The tiny creature was perched on top of a web-like dome it had made across the wall.

As a tuk-tuk passed him, he held his camera steady and snapped. The colorful backdrop of the motorized rickshaw provided a background for the spider's intricate silk web.

This photo was a favorite of the jury right from the beginning of the judging process. It's a wonderful reminder to pay more attention to the small animals that we share our daily lives with, and to always have your camera with us," Dr. Natalie Cooper (a Natural History Museum researcher) said in a statement.

Before trashing the camera, a hungry grizzly bear eye-contact with it

Zack Clothier/Wildlife Photographer for the Yea

Zack Clothier, a US photographer, thought these wild elk bones might be attractive to grizzly bears. He set up his camera near the animal and fled. He returned to find his camera set up ruined.

This was the last image taken, as the grizzly eye was looking at the camera.

Cox stated, "Your eye moves to the rib cage and then to the antlers before getting a jolt of the great grizzlyhead looming into view." It is a story about the bear's struggle to survive in winter and its decision to get food from its hibernation. The bear's expression is what gives it that extra edge. It's impossible not to smile."

Aerial view of seals giving birth to babies on melting ice.

Jennifer Hayes/Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

Jennifer Hayes, a US photographer spent hours looking for the birthing ground of these harp seals from a helicopter. Her camera captured the scattered seals as they approached her, along with the blood stains left by their births on the ice.

Hayes stated in a statement that "it was a pulse, of life, that took your breath away."

However, the ice underneath the seals is becoming increasingly fragile. Arctic air and oceans are becoming warmer, which means that northern sea ice is becoming less common. This could lead to population crashes and major disruptions for animals dependent on the ice.

Cox stated, "What an impactful image - a record both of birth and imminent catastrophe." "Adult Harp Seals add scale to this frozen sea stained by the blood of newlife that is cracking apart to early. This indicates the likely carnage to follow as the ice melts. The pups drown in their fluffy white coats - a dramatic representation of the climate emergency."

Hayes's photograph won the Oceans category of the contest.

Under a photographer's bed, a venomous spider kept watch over its brood.

Gil Wizen/Wildlife Photographer Award

Gil Wizen saw tiny spiders in his bedroom one morning. The culprit was a Brazilian wandering spider about the size of his thumb. The world's most dangerous spider had laid its eggs below the photographer's bed.

Wizen captured the scene and then relocated the spider outside.

One photographer went back to an old subject only to discover it dead

David Doubilet/Wildlife Photographer Award

David Doubilet has been diving with corals since he was 30 years old. Over the years, the reefs have changed. As the oceans absorb carbon dioxide that humans have been adding to the atmosphere, many are now dying. This makes the oceans more acidic and raises the temperature of the water.

This photo shows coral colonies that didn't survive. The coral was bleached when the tiny coral animals, called polyps, died.

Doubilet returned from nine years ago to this coral skeleton and took a photo of its living form.

A white-tailed Kite attempted to teach its offspring how it could seduce a mate

Jack Zhi/Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

According to Jack Zhi, the younger California bird was hovering in midair trying to grab a mouse from its father's claws. This is how the juvenile has to eat until it can hunt on its own. This exchange can also be used to practice future courtship when a male bird gives prey to a woman.

The young, gold-speckled bird had been flying only for two days. The youngster tried to grab the mouse with its claws, but it failed to get the prize. The bird quickly learned and circled to grab the mouse from behind.

Other animals were also fighting for the right of woo

Angel Fitor/Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

This image shows a colorful pair of male cichlidfish facing each other, jaw to jaw, while a female is hiding in a snail shell and ready to lay eggs. Angel Fitor, a photographer, spent three weeks diving to Lake Tanganyika in central Africa looking for cichlid fish fights. This one lasted only seconds.

Females were also fought over by dueling reindeer

Stefano Unterthiner/Wildlife Photographer Award

The rutting season in Svalbard, Norway sees male reindeer fight for harems of women during the rutting season. The two men fought until the dominant male (on the left) chased away his rival.

Stefano Unterthiner, a photographer, stated in a statement that he was immersed in the "smell, the noise, and the pain."

It is the only area that has the Svalbard subspecies reindeer. Climate change has caused increased rainfall on the island. This can freeze and prevent reindeer eating plants normally accessible by soft snow.

A red fox finds dead salmon on an island within an islands.

Jonny Armstrong/Wildlife Photographer Award

This fox is one of two that live on Karluk Lake's small island. It is nestled in Alaska's Kodiak Island. Jonny Armstrong, photographer, followed the fox over several days as it pounced on birds and ate berries. She even bit at the heels a young brown bear.

A storm started to roll in, creating a dark backdrop. Armstrong sat on his stomach at water's edge, focusing her gaze as the vixen searched the shallows looking for sockeye salmon who had died after spawning.

The portraits category winner shows a mountain gorilla in peace while it rains.

Majed Ali/Wildlife Photographer Award

Kibande is almost 40 years of age. He is part of an endangered subspecies known as the eastern gorilla. Only two mountain gorillas are left in the wild: one in the Virunga volcanoes of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and one in Uganda’s Bwindi forests. Poaching, habitat destruction and disease are all threats to their survival.

Photographer Majed Ali trekked four hours uphill to try and photograph Kibande.

Majed stated in a statement that "the higher we climb, the more hotter and humid it got."

As the rain started to fall, cool the air, Kibande shut his eyes and let the drops fall on his face.

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