Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — The winning images of this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition have been revealed after a record number of entries were submitted, and a stunning underwater shot has crowned the first prize.
The 57th edition of the competition, organized by the Natural History Museum in London, saw 50,000 entries from 95 countries competing for the prize, including a picture of a poisonous spider hiding under a bed and a fight between two reindeer.
French underwater photographer Laurent Ballista was awarded the 2021 Wildlife Photographer of the Year award for his photograph of camouflaged groupers amid a cloud of eggs and sperm in the Vakarava Biosphere Reserve in French Polynesia.
Ballista has returned to Lake Vakarava for five consecutive years to capture the annual spawning that occurs around the full moon in July. The museum said in a press release Tuesday that the camouflaged grouper is an endangered species that is threatened by overfishing.
“In what could be a pivotal year for the planet, with lively discussions taking place at COP15 and COP26, Laurent Ballista’s shot serves as a compelling reminder of what we might lose if we don’t address humanity’s impact on our planet,” Natural History Museum director Doug Gurr said in a press release.
Meanwhile, 10-year-old Indian photographer Vidion Hepar was awarded the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year award for his photograph of a Cyrtophora spider sitting in its nets, against the backdrop of a tuk-tuk passing by in India.
Winners have been announced in a total of 19 categories, with three new additions being introduced this year, ‘Wetlands’, ‘Oceans’ and ‘Natural Art’.
Among the other winning photos, Kuwaiti photographer Majid Ali’s shot of a mountain gorilla enjoying bathing in the rain, and American photographer Jennifer Hayes’ lens of a cracked sea ice that was used as a breeding platform for harp seals.
The 2022 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition begins on October 18.