PHOTOS: Best Wild Animal Pictures of 2009 Announced

 PHOTOS: Best Wild Animal Pictures of 2009 Announced
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Winner: Animal Behavior, Mammals
"Boto Water Polo"

A pair of Amazon dolphins use a floating seed as an opportunity for a "ball game" in a tributary of the Rio Negro, Brazil--helping U.S. photographer Kevin Schafer win top honors in the mammal-behavior category of the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest on October 22, 2009.

Schafer, who took the picture while on assignment for National Geographic magazine, saw the pink-colored males tossing objects in the river during a round of "dolphin water polo." (See more of Schafer's Amazon dolphin pictures.)

The real motive, scientists suspect, is to show off to spectating females.

"I saw this behavior many times," Schafer said in a statement. "But it took the construction of a floating platform above the river to be able to shoot the action from the right angle."

(The National Geographic Society owns National Geographic News and National Geographic magazine.)
— Photograph courtesy Kevin Schafer, Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009
 
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