Spectacular Winning Images Of The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer Of The Year 2023

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During the 20th edition of the photographic competition held by the South Australian Museum, the top prize was claimed by Samuel Markham’s photograph titled “My Country Burns.” Captured as Markham defended his home against a raging bushfire, the judges depicted the image as an awe-inspiring yet unsettling portrayal, symbolizing the current state of our world.

Landscape runner-up: Moonlit Storm

A passing storm in the distance and a bright moon above me allowed me to take a single, minute-long exposure to balance the storm and the landscape perfectly. Broken Hill, New South Wales. Photograph: Adam Edwards

More: Australian Geographic Nature Photographer Of The Year h/t: guardian

Overall winner: My Country Burns

Nothing can prepare someone for being straight in the line of a pyrocumulonimbus firestorm with a built-in flashover and temperatures exceeding 1,000C. While protecting my home on New Year’s Eve 2019, daylight turned into darkness with 40-metre-plus flames. Image taken 20 minutes after the fire front had passed. Parma Creek nature reserve, New South Wales. Photograph: Samuel Markham

Urban animals runner-up: Emergency exit – run, a giant spider!

I was told this spider took up residence in this emergency exit sign several days before I captured the image. Biologists working at the centre believed the spider most likely did this because the light was on 24/7, thereby constantly attracting insects for it to feed on. Conservation Ecology Centre, Cape Otway, Victoria. Photograph: Doug Gimesy

Landscape winner: Intricate

Intricate is an image of an alluvial fan on the flood plains of the Joseph Bonaparte Gulf rivers and their creeks. It is a landscape within a landscape, with the water flow illustrating a tree, clouds and soil. The alluvial fans show the history of the water’s flow and illustrate how they bring life to the region in the wet season. Northern Territory. Photograph: Tania Malkin

Astrophotography runner-up: Chasing the Aurora Australis

This photo was taken during a special flight dedicated to chasing the Aurora Australis above the Southern Ocean. When the Milky Way entered the same frame as the Aurora Australis, it was the best light show of the year for me. South Australia. Photograph: Jiayuan Liang

Animals in nature winner: Aftermath

Moments before this frame, three male giant cuttlefish (Sepia apama) were trying to court a female. A fight ensued between two males and they inked the water as they grappled and rolled out of frame. The female bolted and this male was left in the aftermath, still displaying his vivid courting colours. Whyalla, South Australia. Photograph: Matty Smith

Monochrome winner: Desert Tower

A desert oak (Allocasuarina decaisneana or kurkara) stretches skyward beneath the towering monolith of Uluru. A low perspective situates the tree within the scene’s natural curves. Captured in infrared to contrast the dark tree bark with the foliage and rock wall. Uluru-Kata Tjuta national park, Northern Territory. Photograph: Luke Tscharke

Our impact runner-up: Spotted harrier or smoke hawk caught up in a fence

This bird perished in the fencing of a dairy farm. Besides being one of the major causes of global warming, animal agriculture causes myriad issues that all lead to biodiversity loss. Mismanaged land, soil depletion and fencing increase migration and habitat issues for wildlife. Lake Alexandrina, South Australia. Photograph: Karoliina Kase

Monochrome runner up: Spiral Whip Coral

Like all corals, spiral whips (Cirrhipathes sp.) are a colony of individual coral polyps, but in this case they build a unique coiled form. The gap noticeable in the polyps is where a coral goby has made a clearing to lay its eggs, also revealing the coral’s black skeleton. Misool, Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia. Photograph: Matty Smith

Macro winner: Nectar of Life

A Dawson’s burrowing bee (Amegilla dawsoni) sips nectar from the flower of a native bluebell. Water is scarce in this arid region and for these bees, nectar may be the only source of the precious resource. Kennedy Range, Western Australia. Photograph: Dan Jones

Animals in nature runner-up: Somewhere Under the Rainbow

Lord Howe Island is one of the few places in Australia where you can encounter the Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis). The charismatic sharks appear from the depths hoping to get lucky with scraps from a passing boat. A storm started to form over the famous Mt Gower and a double rainbow appeared, making this a very special moment for me. New South Wales. Photograph: David Robinson

Junior runner-up: Turtley Mesmerised

They say that the eyes are the window to the soul. I was totally mesmerised when I locked eyes with this curious freshwater turtle as it emerged from the murky water. Wildlife abounds in the middle of the city (if you take the time to look). Lake Belvedere, New South Wales. Photograph: McKinley Moens

Astrophotography winner: Mungo

Mungo is dominated by ancient lake beds that dried up close to 18,000 years ago. Wind and water have since created the crescent-shaped landforms called lunettes that you see in this image. The lunette is incredibly beautiful in daylight, but there is something special about seeing it under the light of the cosmos that made capturing this moment even more special. Mungo national park, New South Wales. Photograph: Jason Perry

Urban animals winner: Frog in a Bog

One of the joys of Australia is that nature is everywhere. I love rural Australia – and the ever-present dunny frogs – and liked the space-age look of this dunny juxtaposed with the ancient frog (green tree frog, Litoria caerulea). My brother-in-law tells me a frog in the dunny means the water is clean. Better that than a snake! Walgett, New South Wales. Photograph: Tom Owen Edmunds

Junior winner: Hidden Courage

Although it’s a petrifying first sight, ask yourself who is more scared right now? Since this is only a photograph, a paused juncture in time, you missed a vital moment. You missed the glimpse of her spiderlings hidden behind her, the moment she became a courageous mother in my eyes. Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Photograph: Isabella Alexis

Threatened species winner: Golden Seahorse

White’s seahorse (Hippocampus whitei) is endemic to the east coast of Australia. The species is classed as endangered, with large population declines over recent decades due mainly to habitat loss. They have the ability to change colour and blend with habitat, including the beautiful yellow soft coral in this image. Nelson Bay, New South Wales. Photograph: Pete McGee

Macro runner-up: Blue

The starfish shrimp is a species of shrimp in the family Palaemonidae. It is always found in association with a starfish – usually on the undersurface – and often changes its colour to match that of its host. It grows to a maximum length of 15mm. This shot shows it on the undersurface of a blue Echinaster sea star. Western Australia. Photograph: Mary Gudgeon

Threatened species runner-up: Disappearing Act

Hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) are disappearing as human-driven impacts like climate change, marine debris and poaching affect global populations. Lady Elliot Island is a protected ‘no-take’ sanctuary where marine life can thrive. With less than 8% of our oceans globally protected, we need more places like this that are safe havens for marine life. Queensland. Photograph: Harriet Spark

Our impact winner: Swamped Skies

The light pollution caused by satellites is becoming a growing problem for astronomers, as thousands are launched every year. Satellites are becoming cheaper and easier to launch, with satellite light pollution remaining unregulated. This photo shows their impact, with 85 minutes of satellite trails blended into one photo. Pinnacles Desert, Nambung national park, Western Australia. Photograph: Joshua Rozells


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