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Press release


Winning image to take centre stage in exhibition at the Natural History Museum

Exhibition open to the public: 23 October 2004 – 17 April 2005

The winners of this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition were announced on Wednesday 20 October 2004, at a special viewing held at the Natural History Museum, London, and presented by wildlife photographer and film-maker Chris Packham. Doug Perrine of Hawaii was named Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2004 for his image Bronze whalers charging a baitball and Gabby Salazar, 17, of North Carolina was named Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2004 for her image Green anole.

The winning image of two sharks swimming around a baitball of sardines was among more than 18,500 entries, from over 50 countries. Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the world's biggest and most prestigious wildlife photographic competition, jointly organised each year by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine .

The award-winning images from the 2004 competition are: 

  • Eric Hosking Award – Kobe Van Looveren of Belgium with a portfolio of six images
  • Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife – Klaus Nigge of Germany for Curious bison
  • Innovation Award – Pete Atkinson of the UK for Grey reef shark
  • Animals in Their Environment – Howie Garber of the USA for Yacare caiman in sunlight
  • Animal Behaviour: Birds – Jan Vermeer of the Netherlands for Great reed warbler singing
  • Animal Behaviour: Mammals – Anup Shah of the UK for Golden jackal chasing a lesser flamingo
  • Animal Behaviour: All Other Animals – Christian Ziegler of Germany for Cat-eyed snake eating red-eyed treefrog spawn
  • The Underwater World – Doug Perrine of the USA for Bronze whalers charging a baitball
  • Animal Portraits – David Macri of the USA for Great egret displaying
  • In Praise of Plants – Bernard Castelein of Belgium for Beech wood with wild garlic and bluebells
  • From Dusk to Dawn – Peter Lilja of Sweden for Zebra at dusk
  • Composition and Form – Larry Michael of the USA for Wind-blown sugar maple
  • Wild Places – Régis Cavignaux of France for Icelandic cliffs
  • 15-17 years old – Gabby Salazar of the USA for Green anole
  • 11-14 years old – Fergus Gill of Wolfhill, Perthshire, for Northern lights, Scotland
  • 10 years and under – Ville Ritonen of Finland for Curious jay

“The judges were unanimous in the choice of Bronze whalers charging a baitball ,” said judge Roz Kidman Cox, “as a spectacle of light and movement and a moment of great impact caught in a single frame. What makes the drama, the great swirling mass of frantic fish and the power of the almost balletic charging sharks, also creates the beautiful dynamic lines of movement and contrast of light and shade, silver and blue. The photographer has chosen to capture the moment when both sharks have snatched huge mouthfuls of sardines, whose heads project out of a wall of teeth at the moment of their death. To get such a shot requires great skill, knowledge and experience, together with the final, vital ingredient: artistry.”

During the annual sardine run, vast shoals of sardines migrate up the east coast of South Africa. A kilometre off Transkei's Wild Coast, a pod of common dolphins herded sardines to the surface in a ‘baitball'. Other predators soon rushed in, including bottlenose dolphins, tuna, Cape gannets and thousands of sharks. The sharks would charge through the baitball, bursting through the other side or shooting clear out of the water, their mouths stuffed full of fish. So intent were they on feeding that they often bumped Doug as they rushed past. It was one of the most intense experiences of his life.

Currently, Doug is filming a documentary on sharks in Hawaii. He is widely regarded as one the world's foremost marine wildlife photographers. Doug has had a varied career, as a marine biologist, a scuba-diving instructor and boat captain, an interpretative naturalist and tour leader, and a photojournalist. He is the author of seven books on marine life, and his photographs have been published in hundreds of other books as well as most of the world's major nature and science magazines. Doug has served as a consultant for filming projects for the National Geographic Society, the Discovery Channel, Disney and other companies. His photography has garnered a number of awards as well as prizes in this competition.

Green anole by 17-year-old Gabby Salazar of North Carolina, USA, shows a lizard camouflaged by leaves. Gabby was scouting for insects on the flowers in the Valley Nature Center in Weslaco, south Texas, when a flash of pink caught her attention. It was a male green anole displaying its dewlap, a large pink fan of skin on its neck, as a territorial ‘flag'. But the anole stopped as she approached and, as he was no more than 12 centimetres long, Gabby needed to get as close as possible to take a photograph. So she edged very slowly forward, trying to avoid the sharp spines of a prickly pear cactus, until she could focus and then waited until he moved forward into the early morning light, providing a pose for a portrait that, for her, summed up the essence of lizard.

Gabby went on her first photo trip at 12 and was instantly hooked. She and her younger sister and father now go on regular trips, as far afield as Russia, learning from each other. But she prefers to take pictures close to home in North Carolina. She had her first picture published when just 14, on the cover of Our State magazine. A turning point was a scholarship to attend the summit of the North American Nature Photography Association, after which she became determined to dedicate her life ‘to preserving the natural world'. Now 17, she has already won several photographic awards and is pursuing a degree in biochemistry.

Bronze whalers charging a baitball and Green anole will join the category winners and others in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which displays all 90 winning and commended images from the 2004 competition. The exhibition opens to visitors in the Natural History Museum's Jerwood Gallery on Saturday 23 October 2004 and runs until 17 April 2005. It will then tour the UK and five continents after its London debut.

Organised by BBC Wildlife Magazine and the Natural History Museum, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition invites entries from amateur and professional photographers of all ages from across the world. The total competition prize money amounts to more than £16,500, and the judges include key figures from wildlife, art and photography arenas.

The competition's aim is to showcase the very best photographic images of nature to a worldwide audience, showing the splendour, drama and variety of life on Earth and inspiring people to care for its future. At the same time, it aims to show the artistry involved in wildlife photography and encourage a new generation of photographers to produce visionary and expressive interpretations of nature.

All prize-winning pictures will be reproduced in a special souvenir brochure with the November issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine . The winning and commended images will also be published by the BBC in a commemorative book, Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio 14 , priced £25, available from the Museum's bookshop, and all good retailers.


Notes for editors

  • The Natural History Museum (co-organiser and exhibition venue) and BBC Wildlife Magazine (co-organiser) must be mentioned in all editorial pieces.
  • The two overall winning titles, Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year, are selected from the category winners.
  • The 11 adult entry categories are:
    Animals in Their Environment, Animal Behaviour: Birds, Animal Behaviour: Mammals, Animal Behaviour: All Other Animals, Animal Portraits, In Praise of Plants, Composition and Form, From Dusk to Dawn and Wild Places. The World in Our Hands category is supported by WWF – for a living planet. The Underwater World category is supported by Project Aware.
  • The three special awards are:
    The Innovation Award given for the image that best illustrates originality of both composition and execution; the Eric Hosking Award given for the best portfolio of six images taken by a photographer in the age range 18–26; the Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife given for the best image of a species officially listed in the 2003 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 
  • The Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition is open to photographers aged 17 years and under, in three age categories: 10 years and under, 11–14 years old and 15–17 years old.
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  • The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2004 final judges are:
    Rosamund Kidman Cox, former editor of BBC Wildlife Magazine ; Chris Packham, wildlife photographer and film-maker; Tim Parmenter, head of the Photographic Unit of the Natural History Museum; Jonathan Scott, wildlife photographer and presenter; Pedro Silmon, creative director of Tatler magazine; Zoe Wishaw, European Director of Photography at Getty Images.
  • A range of merchandise will be on sale from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year website (, the Natural History Museum from 23 October and selected retail outlets throughout the UK from the end of October 2004.
  • For more information about Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio 14 , published by the BBC, please contact Norman Jones on 00 44 208 433 3299 or

Saturday 23 October 2004 – Sunday 17 April 2005
Tickets: £5, £3 concessions, £12 family, free to under 5s, NHM Patrons and Members
Open: Monday to Saturday 10.00–17.50, Sunday 11.00–17.50
Visitor enquiries: +44 (0)20 7942 5000
Nearest tube: South Kensington
Museum website:
Competition website:

For photographs, to arrange interviews or for further information, please contact:

Mairi Allan, Sarah Hoyle or Becky Chetley
The Natural History Museum Press Office
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7942 5156 / 5654
Fax: + 44 (0) 20 7942 5354
Email:  (Not for publication) 
Issued October 2004