French Underwater Photographer named Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2021

Out of more than 50’000 entires from 95 countries, the Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year has been awarded to French underwater photographer, Laurent Ballesta for his extraordinary underwater scene entitled “Creation”.

The winning photo depicts camouflage groupers exiting their milky cloud of eggs and sperm.

Laurent Ballesta, an underwater photographer and biologist, would return with his diving team every year for five years, diving day and night in hopes of seeing the annual spawning.

© Laurent Ballesta, Wildlife Photographer of the Year

"The image works on so many levels," said chair of the judging panel, writer and editor, Rosamund Kidman Cox OBE, "It is surprising, energetic, and intriguing and has an otherworldly beauty.

"It also captures a magic moment - a truly explosive creation of life - leaving the tail-end of the exodus of eggs hanging for a moment like a symbolic question mark."

Director of the Natural History Museum, Dr Doug Gurr, said: "This year's Grand Title winner reveals a hidden underwater world, a fleeting moment of fascinating animal behaviour that very few have witnessed.

"In what could be a pivotal year for the planet, with vital discussions taking place at COP15 and COP26, Laurent Ballesta's Creation is compelling reminder of what we stand to lose if we do not address humanity's impact on our planet. The protection provided to this endangered species by the biosphere reserve highlights the positive difference we can make."

See more of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year entries here.

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