Astonishing humpback whale pic among images shortlisted for wildlife prize

A huge humpback whale leaping out of the water and a majestic snowy owl were some of the amazing animal photographs entered into a long-running wildlife picture contest.

Over 4,000 photographers entered the National Wildlife Federation’s 50th annual photo contest with more than 40,000 entries.

The humpback whale and snowy owl were among the standout pics from this year’s contest.

The photo of the huge humpback whale leaping out of the water just inches away from a boat in California’s Monterey Bay won first prize in the People in Nature Category.

The image was captured by Douglas Croft while watching the giant mammal from another boat. He managed to snap the perfect shot just as the whale reached the peak of its leap.

The snapper said his astonishing image shows that “anything can happen at any time” in nature.

The contest’s grand prize was won by Thomas Vijayan, who photographed an orangutan climbing upwards, away from a flooded forest floor that reflects the sky in Borneo, Indonesia.

Vijayan chose the rainy season to capture this stunning photograph, which he calls “the world turned upside down”.

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A majestic snowy owl mid-flight is the subject of 14-year-old John Fortener’s picture, which bagged him second place in the Young Nature Photographers.

The teenager was over the moon when he finally found what he was looking for when his mum drove him around Missaukee County, Michigan, USA, and he managed to snap a picture of the owl flying “rights towards” him.

Another spectacular second place was won by Renee Capozzola, this time in the Other Wildlife category, with her larval blanket octopus.

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During a blackwater dive in the Philippines, Capozzola used a handheld “torch” to spot small creatures and managed to take this beautiful photo.

It’s incredible to think that some of these majestic photographs were taken on people’s mobile phones, with a category dedicated solely to that.

Lisa Luckenbach won first place for her picture of a sea anemone “that stuck out like a jewel” on Bates Beach in California.

She said: “Nature is art and art is nature. Up close it looks like the eye of a lizard and also the whole cosmos."

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