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Press release

Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2006
Nature's top moments in focus

Media preview: 19 October 2006, 10.00-13.00
Exhibition open to the public: 21 October 2006 - 29 April 2007

Skilful hunters, mating rituals and vistas from the furthest corners of our world are captured in Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2006. This photographic exhibition of the world's most striking natural moments launches at the Natural History Museum on Saturday 21 October.

The Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, organised by the Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine and sponsored by Shell, is the largest and most prestigious event of its kind. This year's judges scrutinised more than 18,000 entries from amateur and professional photographers in 55 countries to find the winning shot.

'The suspense is already mounting to find out who will win the coveted title of Shell Wildlife Photographer of Year,' said Deborah Sage, Competition Manager. 'Photographers have gone to even greater lengths to capture the drama and beauty of the natural world. This year's contenders include a whale shark feeding on a shoal of fish, bull elephants at dusk and a rare golden leaf monkey highlighted by the sun's rays.'

The exhibition will include 92 winning and commended images, including the new Creative Visions of Nature category. For the first time since the competition embraced digital imaging two years ago, digital pictures outnumber slides, representing nearly two-thirds of entries and almost 90 per cent of the winning images.

James Smith, Chairman of Shell UK said, 'We are delighted to be sponsoring this wonderful competition. It highlights the importance of supporting global biodiversity. This is an area of considerable importance to us as a company and one to which we are keenly committed.'

For many photographers, highlighting the richness and variety of life on Earth is just as important as capturing a wildlife moment with perfect composition and timing. Each picture in the display is captioned to reveal how and why it was taken. Visitors to this year's exhibition can also enjoy new elements that have been enabled through Shell's sponsorship. For example, through new interactives, visitors can find out what the judges, Museum scientists and the photographers themselves thought about particular images. In addition, visitors can vote for their favourite image and choose from a selection of prints to take home.

The exhibition will tour across the UK and four continents after its London debut, showcasing the very best photographic images of nature to millions worldwide. The competition also demonstrates the art and skill involved in wildlife photography, encouraging a new generation of photographers to interpret nature through the lens.

All prize-winning pictures will feature in a special souvenir supplement with the November issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine available from 19 October. The winning images will also be published in a commemorative book by the BBC, Portfolio 16, priced £25, available at the Museum, through BBC Wildlife Magazine, bbcshop.com and all good retailers.

Ends


Notes for editors

  • Please ensure the Natural History Museum, BBC Wildlife Magazine and Shell are mentioned in all editorial pieces.
  • Royal Dutch Shell plc is incorporated in England and Wales, has its headquarters in The Hague and is listed on the London, Amsterdam and New York stock exchanges. Shell companies have operations in more than 145 countries with businesses including oil and gas exploration and production, production and marketing of Liquefied Natural Gas and Gas to Liquids, manufacturing, marketing and shipping of oil products and chemicals and renewable energy projects including wind and solar power. For further information, please visit  www.shell.com  Shell are committed to supporting global diversity - through the promotion of knowledge and support of biodiversity conservation.  For more information, visit www.shell.com/biodiversity
  • The two overall winning titles, Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Shell Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year, are selected from the category winners.

The 12 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, Creative Visions of Nature, Nature in Black and White, Urban and Garden Wildlife and Wild Places. The World in Our Hands category is supported by National Geographic Magazine. The Underwater World category is supported by Project AWARE Foundation (International).

  • The two special awards are the Eric Hosking Award - given for the best portfolio of six images taken by a photographer in the age range 18-26 - and the Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife - 
     given for the best image of a species officially listed in the 2005 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • The Shell 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 and 15-17 years.
  • Microsoft Corporation is the digital technology sponsor for the competition.
  • The 2006 judges are: Mark Carwardine, (chairman) zoologist, writer and photographer; Laura Barwick, freelance picture editor; Rosamund Kidman Cox, editor and writer; Wanda Sowry, picture researcher BBC Wildlife Magazine; Emilie Marsh, picture editor, Getty Images; Paul Lund, photographer, Natural History Museum; Tim Flach, photographer; Rob Sheppard, group editorial director, Outdoor Photographer, PCPhoto, Digital Photo Pro magazines; Colin Prior, landscape photographer and author; Sophie Stafford, editor, BBC Wildlife Magazine; Manuel Presti, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2005; Norbert Wu, underwater photographer and film-maker; Staffan Widstrand, photographer and writer; Andy Mclane, creative partner, Tequila London.
  • For more information about Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio 16, published by the BBC, please contact emma.burch@bbc.co.uk / +44 (0) 20 8433 2988.

Visitor information:
Admission: £6, £3.50 concessions, £15 family, FREE to under 5s, Members and Patrons
Venue: the Natural History Museum
Opening hours: Monday to Sunday 10.00-17.50
Visitor enquiries: 020 7942 5000 Monday-Friday, 020 7942 5011 Saturday and Sunday
Website: www.nhm.ac.uk

For further information, please contact:
The Natural History Museum Press Office
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7942 5654
Email: wildpress@nhm.ac.uk