WPY 2017

Photograph Details

Winner 2017

Behaviour: Mammals

Tony Wu, USA

Giant gathering

Dozens of sperm whales mingled noisily off the coast, stacked as far as Tony could see. Immediately, he realised that this was something special – like a gathering of clans, these whales were part of a multi-day congregation. For Tony, the sight filled him with hope that ‘the recovery of sperm whale populations may be going well’.

The marble-like appearance of these whales is a sign of skin-sloughing. Large aggregations like this one will rub and roll against each other to exfoliate their neighbour’s dead skin, helping them to maintain hydrodynamic performance. The tactile contact also helps to reinforce social bonds.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark III; 15mm f2.8 lens; 1/250 sec at f6.3; ISO 800; Zillion housing and Pro-One optical dome port.


Sri Lanka: latitude 9.978847, longitude 81.705734 Sri Lanka: latitude 9.978847, longitude 81.705734

Sri Lanka

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Tony Wu

Tony Wu, USA

Since 1995, Tony has combined his love of visual art with his interest in the marine world through underwater photography. He has recently focused on photographing cetaceans and documenting spawning aggregations of fish. Tony uses his photographs and writing to encourage others to appreciate and protect the beauty of the oceans. He is also a frequent public speaker.

  • The big four
  • Giant encounter
  • Snapper party