Selected from thousands of entries, an underwater photo of sardine migration on the Wild Coast of South Africa has been selected as the grand-prize winner of the 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year contest. The photo, titled “Sardine Run,” was captured by Greg Lecoeur of Nice, France. He has won a 10-day trip for two to the Galápagos with National Geographic Expeditions and two 15-minute image portfolio reviews with National Geographic photo editors.
The judges for the contest were National Geographic magazine’s senior photo editor of natural history assignments, Kathy Moran, and National Geographic photographers Joe Riis and Jim Brandenburg, both of whom have been widely published for their natural history photojournalism. Contestants submitted photographs in four categories — Action, Landscape, Animal Portraits and Environmental Issues — through National Geographic’s photography community, Your Shot.
Lecoeur took the photo in June 2015 after waiting two weeks to witness the natural predation on sardines captured in the photo.
“During the sardine migration along the Wild Coast of South Africa, millions of sardines are preyed upon by marine predators such as dolphins, marine birds, sharks, whales, penguins, sailfishes and sea lions. The hunt begins with common dolphins that have developed special hunting techniques to create and drive bait balls to the surface,” Lecouer said. “In recent years, probably due to overfishing and climate change, the annual sardine run has become more and more unpredictable.”
Varun Aditya, of Tamil Nadu, India, placed first in the Animal Portraits category for a photo of a snake; Vadim Balakin, of Sverdlovsk, Russia, placed first in the Environmental Issues category for a photo of polar bear remains in Norway; and Jacob Kapetein of Gerland, Netherlands, placed first in the Landscape category for a photo of a small beech tree in a river. Lecoeur’s photo won the Action category.
All of the winning photos, along with the honorable mentions, may be viewed at natgeo.com/photocontest.