Eyecatchers are show-stopping and surprising standalone images from the natural world, accompanied by the photographers’ stories from behind the lens. Below is a sample from our latest selection. The full series can be viewed here.
Coral Kaleidoscope by Georgette Douwma
“I’ve always been drawn to coral reefs and have photographed them for as long as I can remember. Inspired by their inherent beauty, I started experimenting with what I call ‘coral kaleidoscopes’. By flipping and mirroring my images I discovered that I could create surprising compositions with strong symmetry, texture and design. For me, the arresting colours and shapes capture the allure of coral reefs and the species that live within them. I think the results are magical.”
Foster Mother by Axel Gomille
“The Bishnoi are a religious community that lives in Northwestern India. They treat wildlife as fellow creatures, not as a resource. In the same area lives the Indian gazelle, also known as chinkara. Some of them get killed by traffic or feral dogs. In such cases, the Bishnoi women traditionally breast-feed orphaned gazelle fawns – just like their own human children – before the animals are released back into the wild. The religious beliefs of the Bishnoi have a very real conservation value.”
Damselfly Patrol by Theo Bosboom
“At a small fen in the Netherlands, huge amounts of common blue damselflies gather on and around the water on hot summer days. They flit back and forth, looking for prey and mates, while others rest from their labours. Grass stems poking out of the water are popular perches and therefore always occupied. If a damselfly cannot find a place to land, it will often keep flying around a stem. I have discovered that they often do this in a synchronised way. The flight patterns are beautiful, as if the work of a choreographer. However, it is very hard to capture them because the action takes place so quickly. Out of thousands of pictures I’ve taken over the years, only a handful have been successful. Overcast, still days are the best – creating calm, white water and perfect reflections. This picture comes close to what I’ve had in mind all these years, capturing a naurally-occurring ‘flight formation’. No tricks, just years of hard work and dedication.”
Weaponised Slug by Tony Wu
“A blue nudibranch (or sea slug) approaches the colourful, venom-filled tentacles of a bluebottle jellyfish, also known as a Portuguese man-of-war. The ocean-faring slug hunts and eats bluebottles, ingesting its prey’s powerful stinging cells (called nematocysts) and deploying them to special organs at the tips of its own cerata (the spiny outgrowths on its body). These confiscated weapons are then used for the slug’s own selfdefence.”
Bat Cave by Karine Aigner
“As dusk deepens the sky outside Bracken Cave in Texas, a breath-taking spectacle takes place. For several hours, millions of bats stream out of the cave, tornadoing through the sky on one of their nightly hunting trips. Bracken Cave, outside San Antonio, is home to 15 to 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats, comprising the largest single colony of bats in the world. No other mammal on the planet lives at such a dense concentrations.
Every night at dusk, between March and October, the bats emerge to feed – hunting moths, beetles and winged ants. They exit the cave in such dense clusters that they appear as storm clouds on
weather radar! It was essential not to disturb the bats on their mass exodus from the cave, so I used infrared and other sophisticated lighting techniques to avoid disorienting them. It was such a beautiful thing to witness. Once the bats started coming out of the cave, they filled the sky. I could watch such a spectacle every night and never tire of it!”
Survivor by Lucas Bustamante
“Monkeys, birds, frogs, snakes, butterflies… I never know where to point my camera in the Amazon. There’s something interesting in every glance. But when I saw this caterpillar, I knew I’d found
something incredibly unusual.
The caterpillar had been parasitised by an ichneumon wasp. These wasps choose a host (usually the larvae of butterflies or beetles) to lay their eggs in. The eggs are inserted using a long, sharp appendage called an ovipositor that can pierce the flesh of the victim. When the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae begin to develop inside their living host, feeding on its tissues until they’re ready to pupate. By then, the host is usually dead, or nearly so. But that was not the case here. The caterpillar was still alive, even though the many wasp larvae had eaten their way out of it and were pupating in their silken cocoons. I’d always wanted to photograph this disturbing interaction but it´s not easy to find… let alone in a host that can survive such a gruesome attack!”