WPY 2011

Photograph Details

Winner 2011

Wildlife Photojournalist Award

Daniel Beltrá, Spain

The price of oil

Flying over BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2010 made Daniel grasp the immensity of the problem. Relief wells, 5,300 hired vessels, two million gallons of toxic chemical dispersant and 411 controlled burns were used to try to cap the sunken wellhead and get rid of the oil. Photographing from a plane, Daniel 'was blown away by the insane colours' of oil gushing to the surface. He captured flashes of fluorescent orange as the boat propellers churned up the dispersant and left paths of clean water through the patches of black oil. The heaviest and most impressive slicks were bands of thick crude oil nudged into orange, red and burgundy curves by the waves. Surface oil like this would end up washing ashore on the Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida coastlines. How much remained below the surface is unknown. Oiled brown pelicans awaiting a second bout of cleaning were for Daniel, 'an icon of the disaster'.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark II + 24-70mm f2.8 lens at 51mm; 1/1000 sec at f2.8; polarizing filter; ISO 400.


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Daniel Beltrá, Spain

A Spanish photojournalist based in the USA, Daniel specialises in environmental and conservation stories. A fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP), he works regularly for Greenpeace and has won several prestigious awards for his photojournalism, which he hopes will inform people and inspire action.

  • Beneath the surface
  • From sea to air
  • Toxic beauty
  • Crimson crude
  • Still life in oil
  • Discarded
  • The last tree
  • Clearing the way
  • The art of shock
  • The nature of destruction
  • Ghost forest
  • The last cut