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The 2022 winner of Wildlife Photographer of the Year, beating out thousands of stunning images

While we can’t all swim the deepest depths of the ocean or glide across the Amazon’s highest canopies, art and technology has a way of bringing the Earth’s natural splendors directly to us in breathtaking ways.

Since 1965, the Natural History Museum of London’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest has showcased the very best of what nature photography has to offer. This year, the competition attracted more than 38,000 entries from nearly 100 countries celebrating all that is strange and beautiful within the animal kingdom. Images included insects performing bizarre mating rituals, carnivorous snakes snapping up bats midair and flamingos that appear to be walking on clouds.

Out of those 38,000 entries, judges whittled down 19 finalists based on "originality, narrative, technical excellence and ethical practice." Then a top prize was awarded in two different age categories.

Though the museum displays the winning images in exhibitions across the globe, you can take a virtual peek at them below, along with some other honorable mentions.



Adult Grand Title Winner: “The Big Buzz” by Karine Aigner

South Texas, U.S.A.

bee conservationThe big buzz | Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum

www.nhm.ac.uk

For these bees, nothing says “romance” quite like the hot sands of a Texas ranch in May. Female bees know that love is in the air once the surrounding cacti begin to bloom in springtime. Here we see a close-up shot of a fuzzy, whirling ball of bumbles getting down to buzzzzzzness.

The grand prize winning photo, taken by photographer Karine Aigner is not only visually stunning, but helps shine a light on one of the world’s smallest, yet most important creatures that are in need of our help and attention.

Aigner is one of very few women to take home the grand prize in more than five decades. Following her win, she told NPR, “This one's for every girl out there who, in a male-dominated field, thought she couldn't do it. Because you can do it. You can attain it. You just have to do it."

Aigner is also part of Girls Who Click, a nonprofit that helps girls pursue their passion in nature photography.

Young Grand Title Winner: “The Beauty of Baleen” by Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn

Thailand

baleen whales, whale toursThe beauty of baleen | Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum

www.nhm.ac.uk

Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn’s award-winning image was the result of patience and an extremely steady hand. Once a nearby Bryde's whale was spotted, Wuttichaitanakorn quickly turned off the engine of his tour boat and caught the image as the boat continued to rock in the swell.

The shot gets up close and personal with baleen, keratin fibers used to filter small prey like plankton.

“I love how the youngster has gone off the beaten track to show a whale in a totally different composition, while capturing behavior like filter feeding. And this, coming from a young photographer, gives me hope that they are not just seeing, but observing the very minute details, learning much along the way,” said wildlife filmmaker and judge Sugandhi Gadadhar.

“Polar Frame” by Dmitry Kokh

Russia

polar bears russiaPolar frame | Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum

www.nhm.ac.uk

Bears are notoriously curious with little regard for boundary issues when scavenging. Plus with more challenges keeping them from hunting in their natural habitats, bears have been pushed further into human settlements, like this weather station that was closed in the early '90s

Photographer Dmitry Kokh was “astonished” to find more than 20 polars bears living in the abandoned town. Luckily he snapped a photo and lived to tell the tale.

“The Magical Morels” by Agorastos Papatsanis

Greece

conservationThe magical morels | Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum

www.nhm.ac.uk

Photographer Agorastos Papatsanis brought the magical scene to life waiting for just the right amount of sunlight through the trees and using a wide angle lens and flashes to highlight all the morels’ details.

“Heavenly Flamingos” by Junji Takasago

Japan

flamingosHeavenly flamingos | Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum

www.nhm.ac.uk

Japanese photographer Junji Takasago apparently had to fight back altitude sickness as he captured a group of Chilean flamingos preening high up in Bolivia's Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt pan, also known as the “mirror in the sky” for its high-definition reflections.

Takasago snapped at just the right angle to create this surreal illusion.

“Shooting Star” by Tony Wu

U.S.A./Japan

sea stars, blue planetShooting star | Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum

www.nhm.ac.uk

Is it a celestial creature beaming down from outer space? No, it’s a starfish dancing in his own sperm. But it’s beautiful.

“The Beauty of the Familiar” by Mateusz Piesiak

Poland

bird photographyThe beauty of the familiar | Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum

www.nhm.ac.uk

It took photographer Mateusz Piesiak several attempts to "nail the focus" to bring an intimate glimpse of a young gull's high-speed dive right at the moment of impact with the water. But the results were worth it.

“Ndakasi’s Passing” by Brent Stirton

South Africa

wildlife photographyNdakasi's passing | Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum

www.nhm.ac.uk

Gorilla Ndakasi was only 2 months old when she became the only surviving member of her family. She was taken in by caregiver Andre Bauma, with whom she spent 13 peaceful years. The photo, taken by Brent Stirton, shows Ndakasi in Bauma's arms as she passes.

“It was Ndakasi's sweet nature and intelligence that helped me to understand the connection between humans and [other] great apes and why we should do everything in our power to protect them,” Bauma recalled.

“New Life for the Tohorā” by Richard Robinson

New Zealand

whales, new zealandNew life for the tohorā | Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum

www.nhm.ac.uk

Known by the Māori as tohorā, the New Zealand population of southern right whales was hunted to near extinction in the 1800s. Since every new calf makes a difference, this image of … let’s say, courtship … between a male and female tohorā offers new hope.

“Jelly From the Dark Side” by Laurent Ballesta

France

helmet jellyfish

Jelly from the dark side | Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum

www.nhm.ac.uk

Exposure to direct sunlight is lethal for a helmet jellyfish, forcing it to stay in darkness well beneath thick sheets of ice. Photographer Laurent Ballesta and his team had to seep in light from safe distances to capture this bioluminescent creature.

“The Dying Lake” by Daniel Núñez

Guatemala

guatemalaThe dying lake | Wildlife Photographer of the Year | Natural History Museum

www.nhm.ac.uk

This drone-captured image by Daniel Núñez shows toxic cyanobacteria flourishing on Lake Amatitlán, so much so that it competes with the forest alongside it.

Currently the lake receives around 75,000 tons of waste from Guatemala City each year, devastating the habitat for plants and fish.

Jen Guyton, photojournalist and judge noted, “What really makes this image work is the element of surprise. On first glance, the right-hand side of the image looks like a grassy field. But when you realize that it's water, you immediately understand that something is sorely wrong with this picture - it's a damaged ecosystem, and something must be done to fix it.”

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The last thing children should have to worry about is where their next meal will come from. But the unfortunate reality is food insecurity is all too common in this country.

In an effort to help combat this pressing issue, KFC is teaming up with Blessings in a Backpack to provide nearly 70,000 meals to families in need and spread holiday cheer along the way.

The KFC Sharemobile, a holiday-edition charitable food truck, will be making stops at schools in Chicago, Orlando, and Houston in December to share KFC family meals and special gifts for a few select families to address specific needs identified by their respective schools.

These cities were chosen based on the high level of food insecurity present in their communities and hardships they’ve faced, such as a devastating hurricane season in Florida and an unprecedented winter storm in Houston. In 2021, five million children across the US lived in food-insecure households, according to the USDA.

“Sharing a meal with family or friends is a special part of the holidays,” said Nick Chavez, CMO of KFC U.S. “Alongside our franchisees, we wanted to make that possible for even more families this holiday season.”

KFC will also be making a donation to Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit that works to provide weekend meals to school-aged children across America who might otherwise go hungry.

“The generous donations from KFC could not have come at a better time, as these communities have been particularly hard-hit this year with rising food costs, inflation and various natural disasters,” Erin Kerr, the CEO of Blessings in a Backpack, told Upworthy. “Because of KFC’s support, we’re able to spread holiday cheer by donating meals for hunger-free weekends and meet each community’s needs,” Kerr said.

This isn’t the first time KFC has worked with Blessings in a Backpack. The fried chicken chain has partnered with the nonprofit for the last six years, donating nearly $1 million dollars. KFC employees also volunteer weekly to package and provide meals to students in Louisville, Kentucky who need food over the weekend.

KFC franchisees are also bringing the Sharemobile concept to life in markets across the country through local food donations and other holiday giveback moments. Ampex Brands, a KFC franchisee based in Dallas, recently held its annual Day of Giving event and donated 11,000 meals to school children in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

If you’d like to get involved, you can make a donation to help feed students in need at kfc.com/kfcsharemobile. Every bit helps, but a donation of $150 helps feed a student on the weekends for an entire 38-week school year, and a donation as low as $4 will feed a child for a whole weekend.

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"As you know, I have always been an open book, and I wasn't ready to say anything before. But I'm ready now."

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The medley that closes out the second side of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album is one of the most impressive displays of musicianship in the band’s storied career. It also provided the perfect send-off before the band’s official breakup months later, ending with the lyrics, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

In 1969, “Abbey Road” was the last record the group made together, although “Let it Be,” recorded earlier that year, was released in 1970.

At first, the medley was just a clever way for the band to use a handful of half-finished tunes, but when it came together it was a rousing, grandiose affair.

Arranged by Paul McCartney and producer George Martin, the medley weaves together five songs written by McCartney, "You Never Give Me Your Money," "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight” and "The End," and three by John Lennon, “Sun King," "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam."

Fifteen seconds after the medley and the album’s conclusion, there is a surprise treat, McCartney’s 22-second “Her Majesty,” which wound up on the record as an accident.

Jack Black and Kyle Gass, collectively known as Tenacious D, recently reimagined two of the songs in the medley, "You Never Give Me Your Money" and "The End," for acoustic guitars for a performance on SiriusXM's Octane Channel. Like everything with Tenacious D, it showed off the duo’s impressive musical chops as well as their fantastic sense of humor.

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