Most Fantastic Winning Shots From 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest

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Photo Credit: Michael AW via nhm.ac.ak

The winners of the 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year were just announced, with the top images depicting an extreme gamut of beauty and ferocity found in the natural world.

The winning shots were selected from 42,000 entries from 96 countries, and will be exhibited at the Natural History Museum in London from October 16, 2015 through April 10, 2016. These visually-stunning images convey a range of emotions, including scenes that are savage to serene to bizarre.

Pictured above, “Under Water: A whale of a mouthful,” was captured by Michael AW from Australia. In the image, an imposing Bryde’s whale rips through a mass of sardines – gulping up hundreds in just a single pass. Michael explained that photographing the event was a “real challenge,” as he had already been knocked “clean out of the water by whales on two occasions,” but manged to stay away during this encounter along South Africa’s Wild Coast.

The grand title winner, pictured below, entitled “A Tale of Two Foxes,” was taken by photographer Don Gutoski in Wapusk National Park in Manitoba, Canada. It captures an unusual deadly clash between between red and Arctic foxes. The two species aren’t known to prey on each other as they generally hunt and live in different climates, but as their habitats have gradually merged over the last few years, the two animals have been entangled in an unexpected collision course.

Senior editor for natural history projects at National Geographic and jury member Kathy Moran referred to the photo as “one of the strongest single storytelling photographs I have ever seen.” She added, “the immediate impact of this photograph is that it appears as if the red fox is slipping out of its winter coat. What might simply be a straightforward interaction between predator and prey struck the jury as a stark example of climate change, with red foxes encroaching on Arctic fox territory.”

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Photo Credit: Don Gutoski via nhm.ac.ak

Flight of the scarlet ibis

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Photo Credit: Jonathan Jagot via nhm.ac.ak

This image, taken by Jonathan Jagot, France, was a winner in the 15 to 17 years old category. Steering the dinghy slowly up the estuary on Ilha do Lençóis, writes My Modern Met, “Jonathan went in search of scarlet ibis, leaving his family behind on the sailing boat. He anchored at the beach and waited as the birds emerged from the mangroves, feasting on small crustaceans in the receding tide. Then they took off over the sand dunes, glittering like rubies.”

Impressions: Life comes to art

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Photo Credit: Juan Tapia via nhm.ac.ak

This incredible image truly brings life to art. Every summer, Juan Tapia of Spain, says that barn swallows return to nest in an old storehouse on his farm. So he hung a ripped oil painting before a shattered window through which he knew the birds entered. Eight hours later, using remote control, he caught this very moment, as though the bird had just arrived from another planet.

Amphibians and Reptiles: Still life

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Photo Credit: Edwin Giesbers via nhm.ac.ak

Suspended near the surface, a crested newt pauses to rest in the cold waters of early spring. Sitting in the stream wearing a wetsuit, photographer Edwin Giesbers says that he “gently moved his submerged camera until it was directly under the newt, turning the amphibian into a floating silhouette among trees.”