Photo Gallery: Best Wildlife Photos of 2006 Announced

Photo of walrus underwater (best wildlife photos)
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Overall Winner: "Beast of the Sediment" Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, 2006

This image of a massive walrus looming through clouds of mud while probing for food in Arctic waters was voted best overall photo in the 2006 Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

Unveiled October 19 at the Natural History Museum in London, the winning images—five of which are included in this gallery—were chosen from 18,000 entries from amateur and professional photographers in 55 countries.

Göran Ehlmé from Sweden captured top prize for this face-to-face walrus encounter off northeast Greenland, where the tusked giants come to root out mollusks from the seabed using their bristled snouts and powerful flippers.

Ehlmé, who has filmed walruses for National Geographic Television, is the first person to photograph the animals feeding underwater. Diving with walruses is fraught with danger, and Ehlmé took the plunge only after spending many years studying their behavior. (Both National Geographic News and National Geographic Television are parts of the National Geographic Society.)

"They are highly unpredictable and dangerous," said Ehlmé, who has been attacked by the marine mammals in the past.

"I think this one was in a bad, bad mood when he saw me. Appearing through the mud clouds, he looks like an angry god coming down from the heavens."

—James Owen

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