Explosive Fish Sex Wins Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Award


Explosive Fish Sex Wins Wildlife Photographer Of The Year AwardLaurent Ballestra/Adam Oswell/Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

An image appearing to show a group of fish quite literally exploding during sex has earned photographer Laurent Ballesta the prestigious title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year. 

Running annually since 1965, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) awards sees hopeful people across the globe share their best shots of the outside world in a bid to celebrate ‘the wonderful diversity of life, to inspire and inform and to create advocates for the planet’.


Images featured this year include a mischevious-looking grizzly bear stood over the skeletal remains of a bull elk, a group of snow leopards taking in the view in China, and a gecko caught in the trap of a golden tree snake, though this year’s Adult Grand Title Winner was awarded to an image in the ‘Underwater’ category, which was taken by photographer Laurent Ballesta.

Gecko caught by snake (Wei Fu/WPY)Wei Fu/WPY

The image was taken at Fakarava Atoll in the Pacific, in a narrow southern channel linking the lagoon with the ocean. It depicts the annual spawning of camouflage groupers, which occurs in July and has been known to draw up to 20,000 fish.

Titled ‘Creation’, the image captures the moment camouflage groupers rush to release their sperm as a female fish drops a burst of eggs. It took Laurent five years and 3,000 hours of diving to capture this particular moment, though thankfully his efforts paid off when the image was named a winner of the WPY.


According to BBC News, Ballesta commented, ‘I’m attached to this picture because of the shape of the cloud of eggs: it looks like an upside-down question mark. It’s a question of the future of these eggs because only one in one million will (survive to) become an adult, but it’s maybe more symbolic of the future of nature. It’s a very important question about the future of nature.’

Winning Wildlife Photographer of the Year image (Laurent Ballesta/WPY)Laurent Ballesta/WPY

Jury chair Roz Kidman Cox acknowledged the skill that had gone into capturing the image, saying, ‘It’s partly the setting, taken during a full Moon, but also the timing of it, knowing when to take the picture.’

Camouflage groupers are threatened by overfishing, but the biosphere reserve where Ballesta took the photo offers protection for the species.


After being named the winner, Bellesta will see his image premiered in the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London, which opens on Friday, October 15. The exhibition will then tour across the UK and internationally to venues across the globe, reaching millions of people.

Bellesta’s image will be joined by other winning photographs, including the Junior Wildlife Photographer of the Year image, which went to 10-year old Vidyun R Hebbar from India. Titled ‘Dome Home’, the image shows a tent spider in its web.

The photographer will also have the chance to attend the WPY awards ceremony, which is hosted in the Natural History Museum in London.


If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Topics: Animals, fish, Now, Photography


Natural History Museum
  1. Natural History Museum


Emily Brown
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