A series of breathtaking pictures shortlisted for a top wildlife photography award include a humpback whale leaping from the sea in California , an eagle fighting a fox in Japan , and bighorn rams coming to blows in Canada. The humpback whale performed the stunt for snapper Douglas Croft in California’s Monterey Bay as it breached the water meters from a fisherman’s boat, towering above another boat as it leapt out the sea. The National Wildlife Magazine’s photo contest had over 40,000 entries. The Grand Prize winner of the 2021 contest was an orangutan escaping flooded forest floor, highlighting the impact deforestation has on wildlife. Each entry was part of a wider drive to protect wildlife species and their habitats.
A male orangutan climbs up a tree, away from a flooded forest below him. The clear water below reflects the sky in Borneo, Indonesia. The area of forest is set aside to protect the endangered primates, whose habitat is being destroyed for palm oil plantations.
On the frozen shores of Hokkaido Island in the far north of Japan, a white eagle is photographed fighting a brazen red fox that moved in to try and grab a bite of the eagle’s food. In the region, competition for food can breed such conflict.
A young, golden snub-nosed monkey clings to its more sure-footed mother as she makes her way through the tree branches is China’s Qinling Mountains. She looks up, preparing to leap to the next branch.
A pair of bighorn rams native to North America crash their horns together in an age-old dance of dominance. The photographer captured a moment of near-perfect symmetry as the two rams come together, locked in eye contact.
An early morning scene in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve shows a group of elephants moving towards the Musiara Marsh for a morning feast, with a small baby elephant trotting amongst the herd, that surrounds its young for protection.
This picture, taken by 14-year-old John Fortener in Missaukee County, Michigan, captures the moment a stunning snowy owl took flight towards him as he photographed the bird in a field.
A crab-eating macaques live Lopburi, Thailand climbs along the top of a rusty fence as a gust of wind picks up a piece of old newspaper, which flies into the money’s face for a fleeting moment, captured in this photograph. Some 4,500 of the animals live in Lopburi, and early in the pandemic became a nuisance to the locals when food – usually supplied by tourists – dried up.
This larval blanket octopus is only about the size of a golf ball, and the photographer was using nothing but a small handheld torch to search out small sea creatures about 30 feet below the surface in Anilao in the Philippines.
A green bottle fly lands on the remains of a groundhog, likely killed by a car in Sainte-Adèle, Québec, Canada.
This photograph was captured by 16-year-old photographer Addie Leimroth, while he was searching in the Arizona desert for snakes. he found this snake, a gopher snake, wound within the spines of an ocotillo plant.
Leaving a weave of footprints in the snow behind them, a group of Tibetan antelopes walk up the slope of a sand dune in China’s harsh, high-elevation Kumukuli Desert, known to many as being a ‘no-man’s land’.
A graceful flock of flamingos fly in formation above Kenya’s Lake Magadi, a saline expanse whose minerals catch the sunlight, forming swirls across the water. The photographer captured this image from above in a helicopter.
A sea anemone shines like a jewel surrounded by colorful pebbles in a tide pool on Bates Beach in central California.
This photograph from St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in Florida shows a wild roseate spoonbill nesting near a walkway, that allowed the photographer to get up close and take this picture as the perfect light came over it. The image captures the variety of colors in the bird’s feathers.
The photographer behind this image stopped to take in the view and build a small snowman on a ridgeline in Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park. Perhaps thinking it was food, this raven swooped down to inspect the creation.
The photographer began visiting public gardens during the coronavirus lockdown, and captures this series of macro images showing pollinators, such as bees and a Sphecid wasp.
This landscape shot of Kauai, Hawaii won the Landscapes & Plants category of the competition. The photographer described the conditions over the iconic Na Pali Coast as ‘once in a lifetime’, with a passing storm and sunset creating incredible light.