WPY 2018

Photograph Details

Highly commended 2018

Wildlife Photojournalism

David Higgins, UK

Beach Waste

David surveyed the subdued scene: a dead sperm whale being moved across a beach by a digger. The whale was one of five that had stranded on the UK coast, attracting people from far and wide to gaze at the huge bodies slumped on the sand. ‘It was miserable to watch this majestic animal being dragged by a mechanical monster,’ says David.

Sperm whales use echolocation to navigate, sending out pulses of sound to ‘read’ their surroundings. These signals are difficult to interpret in shallow water, with a gently sloping seabed, and so the whales can become confused and end up stranded. Illness and collisions with ships are other causes, but why whales beach is still not fully understood.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 70–200mm f2.8 lens at 105mm; 1/125 sec at f7.1; ISO 500; Manfrotto monopod


Skegness, Lincolnshire, England: latitude 53.13977, longitude 0.347528 Skegness, Lincolnshire, England: latitude 53.13977, longitude 0.347528

Skegness, Lincolnshire, England

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David Higgins, UK

David is an ecologist and conservation worker specialising in river catchments and terrestrial conservation. He is also a keen wildlife photographer with a passion for travel, rivers, forests and the sea. His favourite woodland is Hackfall Woods in North Yorkshire, which he visits as often as he can when he's back in the UK.