Richard Robinson’s image of whales mating has been named one of the world’s best wildlife photos at this year’s worldwide Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
Run by the Natural History Museum, his image entitled New Life for the Tohorā, was named the best in the Oceans – The Bigger Picture category. The competition received close to 40,000 entries from 93 countries.
The return of the tohorā southern right whale is one of New Zealand’s best conservation success stories and demonstrates what can be achieved with knowledge and protection.
Richard Robinson said, “For me, this image is about hope. Last century these whales were hunted to near extinction, but now this recovering population is into its thousands all descended from only thirteen females.”
Napier-born Robinson, who has been a photojournalist for more than 20 years, took the image on a dive off the remote Auckland Islands for New Zealand Geographic.
Live Ocean Foundation were proud to support the voyage by Dr Emma Carroll and the research team from the University of Auckland, which Richard and New Zealand Geographic took part in.
Roz Kidman Cox, editor and chair of the jury said of Robinson’s image, “To glimpse, let alone photograph, in one single composition the finale of the courtship of these balletic giants – southern right whales – is a photographic first. But the true value is the symbolic promise of new life for this New Zealand population, hunted to virtual extinction and now slowly increasing.”
Dr Natalie Cooper, Senior Researcher, Natural History Museum said, “Southern right whales were hunted to the brink of extinction by whalers in the 19th century, with fewer than 100 whales remaining when whaling ended. Fortunately in New Zealand these whales are recovering steadily, so this image is one of hope for a brighter future.”