Amos nachoum, USA – Gold WINNer and grand prize of WORLD NATURE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
For hours, I waited for the low tide to arrive along a shallow lagoon on a remote island off the Antarctic Peninsula. Like clockwork, the leopard seal arrived in the lagoon just before low tide. It put its head in the water and looked just like a rock sitting in the receding water. The young Gentoo penguins only dare to enter the water when it is shallow and when they got close enough to the seal, it turned its head at lightning speed, catching one of the penguins by its feet and taking it to deep water. Once the seal reached open water, I followed it and swam parallel to it, observing its actions. To my surprise, it let go of the penguin twice. Each time, the seal chased after the penguin again, as if it was enjoying the game. The terrified penguin tried to escape as the game continued. But soon, the end came.
silver: WILLIAM FORTESCUE, UNITED KINGDOM
bronze: Buddhilini de Soyza, AUSTRALIA
Monstrous rains in Masai Mara Kenya during January of 2020 caused one of the major rivers to flood and become larger and more violent than ever before. The world’s only recorded coalition of 5 male cheetahs, were looking to cross this river in terrifyingly powerful currents. It seemed a task doomed to failure, with many famous cheetahs dying trying to cross much fewer daunting waters.
After hours of careful searching along the banks, they suddenly jumped into the water and began trying to swim across this maelstrom of water as we watched terrified, they would be washed away or eaten by crocodiles. Their aim was to cross over to the other side, which was part of their territory and full of game.
The lead cheetah looked straight at us during the crossing while gritting teeth with swimming effort, as if accusing us of not helping them and watching them about to die. We screamed with delight as we saw them finally cross over about a 100m downstream from where they jumped.