A family of Japanese macaques lives the good life in the hot springs of Japan’s Jigokudani Yaenkoen Park, where the protected primates enjoy warm waters as much as any human bather could.
This image captured first place in the Wildlife category of the International Conservation Photography Awards (ICPA), a global showcase of images that inspire people to care about conservation of the environment.
“The photo is such a beautiful shot of a macaque family interacting with one another,” said ICPA judge Cynthia Hall, an environmental graphic designer with Girvin in Seattle, WA. “The father’s head thrown back in ecstasy, the child touching with a little hand, the look on the mother’s face—emotionally you can’t help but love the moment that’s going on.”
Winning images are exhibited through September 6, 2010 at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture on the University of Washington campus.
Photograph by Oksana Perkins, courtesy International Conservation Photography Awards (ICPA)
Endangered greater adjutant storks, (<i>Leptoptilos dubius</i>), are common at the garbage dump in Guwahati, India. But the birds must wait their turn behind people who also glean their living from the garbage of others in the state of Assam.
“You can see the movement of these people in the foreground as the storks are sitting on top of the heap waiting their turn to get in there and get something,” Hall said.
“It’s a moment where humans are dominating and these birds are just patiently waiting. This fantastic image, top-notch from color to composition, earned first prize in ICPA's Community at Risk category.
(See also: In India, Nets Save Baby Storks From Falls)
Photograph by Sandesh Kadur, courtesy ICPA
Sunbeams in the Pines
Ethan Welty rose with the sun to ascend Mount Baring, and captured its early morning rays as they fell through the fog and mists of Washington’s Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The shot earned Welty top honors in the Student category of the ICP Awards.
“The effect lasted only a few seconds,” he wrote. “Luckily, I precariously dangle my camera from my neck on such mountain forays.”
Photography by Ethan Welty, courtesy ICPA
Seal on a Propeller
The abandoned whaling station in Stromness Bay, Antarctica, hosted the legendary Ernest Shackleton at the end of his epic do-or-die trek. It proved less hospitable to countless whales that were hunted from the site—in some cases to the brink of extinction.
Only a male fur seal remained to greet visiting photographer Susanne Weissenberger, who won the Environment at Risk category with this image. His perch amidst the restricted ruins prompted Weissenberger to wonder “Can he read?”
Photograph by Susanne Weissenberger, courtesy ICPA
Death Valley Badlands
Evening light casts a benign glow on the rough landscape of Death Valley, one of the Earth’s hottest, driest, lowest, and most inhospitable locations. Record highs have reached 134°F (57°C) and the area receives less than 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rainfall per year.
A passing sandstorm helped set this scene for photographer Trixi Huish, whose image won first place in the Landscape category. Her Zabriskie Point perch also showcases another natural wonder—the power of erosion. Eons of weathering have created a mazelike pattern of badlands that captures the eye.
Photograph by Trixi Huish, courtesy ICPA
Translucent Sea Nettle
The translucent glow of a sea nettle off San Carlos Beach in Monterey, California, helped Jim Patterson take top honors in ICPA’s Underwater category.
This jelly may be beautiful but it can pack a punch. The animal’s venomous tentacles are capable of dealing humans a painful sting, and groups of floating nettles sometimes plague swimmers. The jellies use their sting to paralyze the tiny drifting animals that they hunt and devour.
Photograph by Jim Patterson, courtesy ICPA
Grasses Cling to Life
Southwest Africa’s Namib Desert is one of the world’s largest and oldest—it has existed for some 55 million years. The desert is home to massive sand dunes that can tower to nearly 1,000 feet (300 meters) and move with prevailing winds like those whipping clumps of Astenatherum grass in a struggle for life.
Yet in this harsh world some 3,500 plant species do survive, and about half of them are found nowhere else on the planet.
Photograph by Philippe Moës, courtesty ICPA
Lake Washington Bridge
The Seattle-based ICP Awards include a Puget Sound at Risk category so that local photographers can speak to the ecology of their own neighborhood.
In this image, untreated rainwater runoff pours into Lake Washington beneath a bridge, carrying pollutants from auto traffic that contaminate prime salmon habitat.
Hall said her fellow judges felt the first-place picture really helped to bring the problem home. “You almost feel like you’re going to have to take a shower in this awful water,” she said.
Photograph by Tom Reese, courtesy ICPA
A school of sailfish (Istiophorus albicans) gorges on sardines some 10 miles (16 kilometers) off Isla Mujeres on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. These fastest fish in the sea have been clocked at speeds of more than 68 miles (110 kilometers) per hour. They use their speed, and even their large sails, to herd small fish and—as photographer Stuart Westmorland captured—stab them with their spears.
This image claimed the Art Wolfe award, named for ICPA’s founder, but Westmorland explained that it also captured an ephemeral moment in time.
“The sardine was stuck on the sailfish bill and then with lightning speed, it was shaken off and consumed,” he wrote.
All prizewinning images can be seen in slideshows at the ICP Awards website