The Night Shift

Laurent Ballesta's Image

As night fell, the molluscs began to move on the coral reef. Behind these slow grazers cruised one of the area’s top predators: a grey reef shark. Laurent composed this shot of the animals stirring beneath the watery reflection of their habitat, contrasting the angular molluscs with the sleek hunter.

Because the thick shells of molluscs are iridescent and shiny on the inside, they are often used for making buttons, jewellery and other decorations. But, while trade and heavy fishing have led to a decline in numbers, these molluscs are now the focus of conservation efforts. In some countries, young molluscs are produced in hatcheries before being sent into tropical reefs.

Behind the lens

Laurent Ballesta

Laurent Ballesta


Laurent has authored 13 photography books on underwater wildlife. As co-founder of Andromède Océanologie he has been leading major expeditions for 10 years. He illustrates the underwater world as a naturalist and artist, whether through the first pictures of a coelacanth taken by a diver at 120 metres deep, 700 sharks of Fakarava hunting at night, or the deepest and longest dive in Antarctica.

Image details

  • Nikon D4S
  • 17–35mm f2.8 lens
  • 1/250 sec at f11  •   ISO 800  •   Seacam housing  •   strobes
  • Fakarava UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Tuamotu Islands, French Polynesia
Copyright in WPY competition photographs remains the property of the respective photographers. You may not copy, share, reproduce or republish the photographs except as expressly permitted by copyright law. For media image usage enquiries, please contact us.

More images from Laurent Ballesta

View all

Wonder wall

Many of these stunning images are available as personalised prints for your home

Shop now

Discover more

Sign up to our newsletter

Get email updates about Wildlife Photographer of the Year news, events, science, products and fundraising activities. You must be over the age of 13. Privacy notice.