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.
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
Sign up to receive emails from the Natural History Museum about events and exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Love this image?
Choose your favourite from this year's collection. You can only choose once.
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.