BEST FRIENDS

Perfectly timed photos of wild animals offer a lesson in coexistence

Life is all about relationships, and no less so in the animal world. As two recent UK wildlife photography contests reveal, the fleeting moments of interaction between predators, prey and parasites in the wild can be stunningly beautiful—and less bloody than you might expect.

An image of luminous image of tiny fish sheltering among the tentacles of a large lion’s mane jellyfish won the British Wildlife Photography Awards (BWPA), announced Sept. 5. Photographer George Stoyle came across the scene off the Island of Hirta, Scotland.

“At the end of one of the dives I was swimming back to the boat when I came face to ‘face’ with the largest jellyfish I’d ever encountered,” Stoyle said in the awards press release. “As I approached cautiously I noticed a number of juvenile fish had taken refuge inside the stinging tentacles.”

A Lion's mane jellyfish provides shelter to a small school of silver fish near Island of Hirta, Scotland.
Free riding. (George Stoyle/British Wildlife Photography Awards 2016)

Other BWPA award winners include Sam Hobson’s photo of mistle thrush nesting on a traffic light in Leicester, England, and several “action” shots of animals with freshly-caught prey:

Cozy home. (Sam Hobson/British Wildlife Photography Awards 2016)
A golden eagle feeds on its fresh catch in Assynt, Scotland. (Peter Cairns/British Wildlife Photography Awards 2016)
A sparrowhawk strikes out, in Dumfries, Scotland. (Michael Durham/British Wildlife Photography Awards 2016)
A mallard duck peers down at a brown trout, in Hampshire, England.
A mallard duck peers down at a brown trout, in Hampshire, England. (Paul Colley/British Wildlife Photography Awards 2016)
A starling finds its spot on a supermarket cart in Cornwall, England.
A starling finds its spot on a supermarket cart in Cornwall, England. (Geoff Trevarthen/British Wildlife Photography Awards 2016)

Meanwhile, the London Natural History Museum’s shortlist for Wildlife Photographer of the Year, released Aug. 31, includes another photo showing a killer whale “splitting the catch” with a fishing boat in Norway. Photographer Audun Rikardsen captured this dramatic frame split above and underwater: A killer whale and flock of sea birds crowding up to a fishing boat to get a bite of herring, just as the fishing net is pulled out of the ocean.

A killer whale swims up to a fishing boat to get a bite of herrings.
Sharing a buffet. (Audun Rikardsen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016)

“Sometimes it’s the fishing boats that look for the killer whales and humpbacks, hoping to locate the shoals of herring that migrate to these Arctic Norwegian waters,” said Rikardsen. “But in recent winters, the whales have also started to follow the boats.”

Here are two more perfectly-timed images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year shortlist. A winner will be declared Oct. 18:

A Southern Yellow Hornbill gobbles down termite snacks, in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa.
A Southern Yellow Hornbill gobbles down termite snacks, in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa. (Willem Kruger//Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016)
A lion cub plays with a rolled-up pangolin in in South Africa’s Tswalu Kalahari Private Game<br />Reserve. (Lance van de Vyver/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016)
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