The winner of the 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year contest was announced earlier this week, and it was an underwater photo entitled ‘Sardine Run’ that scooped the Grand Prize.
Photographer Greg Lecoeur waited for two weeks to witness and capture this stunning shot, which features the natural predation of sardines by dolphins and marine birds.
Lecoeur elaborates in the photo caption: "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. In recent years, probably due to overfishing and climate change, the annual sardine run has become more and more unpredictable. It took me two weeks to have the opportunity to witness and capture this marine predation."
The contest had four different categories, with Lecoeur triumphant in the 'Action' category and winning the overall Grand Prize. 'Dragging you deep into the woods!' by Varun Aditya won the 'Animal Portraits' category, Vadim Balakin's 'Life and Death' took first prize for 'Environmental Issues,' and Jacob Kaptein was victorious in the 'Landscape' category with 'Struggle of life.'
You can see all four prize-winning photographs in the gallery below, and don't forget to visit the contest website to check out some of the other finalists.