Every spring, the judges of the Audubon Photography Awards gather at Audubon’s headquarters in Manhattan to review their favorite images and select the finalists. But as with much of life in 2020, this year’s awards had to be handled differently due to pandemic-related travel, work, and social-distancing restrictions. So, for our 11th annual awards, which saw more than 6,000 submissions, the judges assembled in an epic day-long Zoom meeting to winnow down the remaining pool to just the 10 winners and honorable mentions.
Grand Prize Winner: Joanna Lentini
Double-crested Cormorant. Photo: Joanna Lentini/Audubon Photography Awards
Species: Double-crested Cormorant
Location: Los Islotes, Mexico
Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II with Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X 107 DX AF Fisheye lens; 1/640 second at f/6.3; ISO 320
Story Behind the Shot: I’ve spent many hours underwater at this California sea lion rookery in the Bay of La Paz, but I had never before encountered diving cormorants there. Shifting my focus from the playful sea lions, I watched in awe as the cormorants plunged beak-first into the sea to snap at the sardines swimming by. Although I spent a long time admiring these birds, I didn’t see a single one catch a fish. Adding insult to injury, curious sea lion pups would zip by the hunting birds and nip at them from behind.
Bird Lore: Cormorants are superb divers, well adapted to rapid pursuit of fish underwater. Their bodies are heavy but streamlined, with dense plumage. When they dive, they hold their wings tightly to their sides, propelling themselves with their powerful legs and webbed feet, steering through the water with their tails. Some cormorants may be capable of diving more than 300 feet below the surface, but most of their hunting is done at shallower depths.
See all the winners here: https://www.audubon.org/magazine/summer-2020/the-2020-audubon-photography-awards-winners