The Natural History Museum’s prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition revealed striking images that detail the profound environments and behaviors of creatures around the world.
On Tuesday, American Photographer Karine Aigner was announced as this year’s winner of the grand title award for her image, called “The big buzz,” which captures a ball of mating male cactus bees frantically surrounding the sole female bee on a Texas ranch.
“The sense of movement and intensity is shown at bee-level magnification and transforms what are little cactus bees into big competitors for a single female,’ Rosamund ‘Roz’ Kidman Cox, Chair of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Jury, said.
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Aigner, a former National Geographic photo editor, captured a behavior that’s rarely seen in photos. Cactus bees normally live lives of solitude but then amass in huge numbers in mating events. Her image could help scientists better protect the vital insects, officials said.
“The typical image of bees is usually that of a large colony buzzing around a honeycomb, yet the vast majority of the 16,000 known bee species are actually solitary,” competition officials said. “These solitary bees play a vital role in the pollination of plants, including many of those we eat.”
Of the grand title winners in the competition’s 58-year history, Aigner is the fifth woman to receive the award.
Thailand photographer Katanyou Wuttichaitanakorn, 16, was awarded the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022 for his image called “Beauty of baleen.” Katanyou was on a whale tour boat when he photographed a whale’s lunge-feeding technique to capture large numbers of small schooling fish and filter small prey from the ocean.
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See other winning photographs and take in more of nature’s awe.
The Natural History Museum will reveal the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition on Friday, Oct. 14 in London.
Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY’s NOW team.