Wildlife Coup for Waikato Museum as Major Secure Wildlife Photography Exhibit

New Zealand photographer Richard Robinson was watched closely by this tohorÄ (southern right whale) calf near Auckland Island.  The image is one of the images in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, developed and produced by the Natural History Museum in London.

Richard Robinson

New Zealand photographer Richard Robinson was watched closely by this tohorÄ (southern right whale) calf near Auckland Island. The image is one of the images in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, developed and produced by the Natural History Museum in London.

A shoal of fish seeming to fly high among the clouds, a pool party with frogs, a polar bear sitting at home and a half giraffe.

Eerie and remarkable images will be seen at the Waikato Museum when a major photography exhibition opens at the Hamilton facility later this year.

The world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, on loan from the Natural History Museum in London, opens on Friday 9 December.

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The exhibit features 100 photographs that capture fascinating animal behavior, unusual and often spectacular species, and the diversity of the natural world.

It’s a coup for Hamilton. Usually, when the full exhibit arrives in New Zealand, it is held at the Auckland Museum. Sometimes a smaller version featuring a selection of the works is transported to regional centers.

It won’t just be pictures hanging on the walls. Some of the images will be displayed using light boxes, giving them an almost cinematic quality.

Another image from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit is this striking image of a roaming polar bear that has, out of necessity, taken up residence in an abandoned house on the island of Kolyuchin in Russia's High Arctic.

Dmitry Kokh

Another image from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit is this striking image of a roaming polar bear that has, out of necessity, taken up residence in an abandoned house on the island of Kolyuchin in Russia’s High Arctic.

And, like the best examples of photojournalism, many images tell a story – albeit often an unfortunate one, with recurring themes of extinction, habitat loss and other forms of human-inflicted cruelty.

“This is the most prestigious photography award of its kind and we are delighted to be the first New Zealand hosts of this year’s exhibition,” said museum director Liz Cotton.

“Wildlife Photographer of the Year has provided a global platform to showcase some of the best photographic talent from around the world for over 55 years.

These fish appear to be airborne, but are just battling clouds of habitat-destroying algae in a lake in Finland - the result of apocalyptic climate change.

Tiina Törmänen

These fish appear to be airborne, but are just battling clouds of habitat-destroying algae in a lake in Finland – the result of apocalyptic climate change.

“This year’s winners include a stunning image by New Zealand photographer Richard Robinson, highlighting the work being done to protect New Zealand’s population from tohorā (southern right whales).”

Robinson’s photo, titled The Right Look, depicts a close encounter with one of the gigantic mammals in the waters near Auckland Island.

With the young whale investigating him, Robinson’s main challenge was to swim far enough from the curious calf to photograph him. The encounter lasted 30 minutes, with the whale circling him, swimming, then returning for another look.

Brandon Güell waded through murky swamps and braved hordes of mosquitoes to get this picture of Costa Rica's tree frog breeding frenzy.  Each female lays about 200 eggs, creating huge egg masses.  Eventually the tadpoles will hatch and drop into the water below.

Brandon Guell

Brandon Güell waded through murky swamps and braved hordes of mosquitoes to get this picture of Costa Rica’s tree frog breeding frenzy. Each female lays about 200 eggs, creating huge egg masses. Eventually the tadpoles will hatch and drop into the water below.

The New Zealand population of tohorā was hunted to near extinction by European whalers in the 1800s and then by Soviet whalers in the 1900s. Now protected, the population has rebounded from a small group comprising only 13 breeding females, to more than 2000 individuals.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors from across the country to the Waikato Museum to view these incredible images, including those with a passion for photography, the environment, and our natural world.”

Launched in 1965, the competition receives entries from more than 90 countries. Those deemed deserving are sent on an international tour that allows them to be seen by over a million people.

A giraffe in Kenya's Nairobi National Park encounters an unnatural obstacle in the form of these giant concrete pillars, which support a railway line across the country.  Aptly titled The Disappearing Giraffe, the photo is another entry in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit.

Jose Fragozo

A giraffe in Kenya’s Nairobi National Park encounters an unnatural obstacle in the form of these giant concrete pillars, which support a railway line across the country. Aptly titled The Disappearing Giraffe, the photo is another entry in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit.

Each entry was judged anonymously on its creativity, originality and technical excellence by an international panel of industry experts.

The winning images, including the prestigious Grand Title Award winners, will be announced on October 11 at an awards show hosted by wildlife presenter and conservationist Chris Packham.

“Captured by some of the best photography talent from around the world, the 100 photographs encourage curiosity, connection and wonder,” said Doug Gurr, director of the Museum of Natural History.

“These inspiring images convey the human impact on the natural world in ways that words cannot – from the urgency of biodiversity decline to the inspiring rebound of a protected species.”

Although many exhibits at the Waikato Museum are free, there will be an admission fee for this one, set at $15 for adults, $5 for children, and preschoolers at no charge.

Tracey L. Sweeney