From a treefrog pool party to a polar bear hanging out in an abandoned house, the selection of recently released, Highly Commended images in this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition offer a spectacular panorama of the natural world ranging from the awe-inspiring to the heartbreaking. The annual competition attracts photographers of all ages from across the globe whose photos will be judged by a panel of experienced industry experts for their creativity, originality and technical excellence.

The winning images will be announced on October 11, followed by an exhibition at the Natural History Museum featuring the top 100 photos from the contest. In the build-up to the big announcements, the museum recently revealed some of the Highly Commended images in this year's competition. Among them are Tiina Törmänen’s otherworldly encounter with fish ‘flying’ through cloud-like algae, and 7-year-old Joshua Cox’s portrait of a stag in London’s Richmond Park.

Underwater wonderland
Highly commended, Under Water
Tiina was thrilled to meet a school of inquisitive European perch on her annual lake snorkel. During the previous three years she had only ever found dead fish. Submerged in the surreal scene, she framed the orange-finned fish flying through clouds of pink-tinged algae. Although it created a beautiful scene, excessive algal growth, a result of climate change and warming waters, can cause problems for aquatic wildlife as it uses up oxygen and blocks out sunlight.
Tiina Törmänen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The snow stag
Highly commended, 10 Years and Under
It had just started to snow when Joshua and his father arrived in Richmond Park. They followed the deer at a safe distance when suddenly the snow intensified and one of the stags stopped. ‘He almost looked as if he was having a snow shower,’ says Joshua. Richmond Park is home to herds of red and fallow deer, which have been roaming freely since 1637. The grazing deer help to manage the landscape of the park.
Joshua Cox/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

"Captured by some of the best photography talent from around the world, the 100 photographs encourage curiosity, connection and wonder," Dr Doug Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum, said about the exhibit. "These inspiring  images  convey  human  impact  on  the  natural  world  in  a  way  that  words  cannot – from  the urgency of declining biodiversity to the inspiring bounce back of a protected species."

Here's a look at some of our favourites. 

Polar frame
Highly commended, Animal Portraits
When Dmitry’s boat approached the small island of Kolyuchin, in the Russian High Arctic, which had been abandoned by humans since 1992, he was surprised to spot movement in one of the houses. Binoculars revealed polar bears – over 20 in total – exploring the ghost town. Dmitry used a low-noise drone to document the surreal experience. Extremely inquisitive, polar bears will investigate abandoned structures for potential food. With climate change reducing sea ice, hunting is becoming increasingly difficult, pushing these bears closer to human settlements to scavenge.
Dmitry Kokh/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Dipper dispute
Highly commended, Behaviour: Birds
After years of visiting the river, Heikki knew every ‘dipping’ rock favoured by white-throated dippers. Picking one hidden beneath flowing water, he sat quietly on the bank. Suddenly the spot became the subject of a hotly contested argument. Poised for the action, Heikki captured the fleeting moment. Dippers use ‘dipping’ rocks as a launch pad to scout rivers before diving down to hunt mayfly and caddisfly larvae and small fish, swallowing tiny catches while submerged.
Heikki Nikki/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The octopus case
Highly commended, 15-17 Years
Samuel was muck diving when he noticed this octopus. He lowered the power of his strobe lamp so as not to distress it. The octopus shut the lid of the shell when Samuel approached, but then slowly opened it, revealing colours and coils. This small octopus hunts mainly shrimps, crabs, clams and small fishes. To protect its soft body when foraging on sand or mud, it hides in various objects – sometimes even coconut shells.
Samuel Sloss/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The disappearing giraffe
Highly commended, Natural Artistry
Keeping his camera steady in the moving vehicle, Jose followed the giraffe. Dwarfed by the giant pillars of Kenya’s new Standard Gauge Railway, the grey blocks contrast with the unmistakable pattern of nature’s tallest land mammal. Around the world, human development increasingly encroaches on the range and habitats of animals. Though this stretch of railway running through Nairobi National Park is raised on giant columns, allowing animals access beneath, this picture is symbolic of how the space for wildlife continues to be squeezed.
Jose Fragozo/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Treefrog pool party
Highly commended, Behaviour: Amphibians and Reptiles
Plagued by mosquitoes, Brandon waded chest-deep into the murky water where a gathering of male gliding treefrogs were calling. At dawn thousands of females arrived at the pool to mate and lay their eggs on overhanging palm fronds. Here, unmated males search for females to mate with. These spectacular mass-breeding events occur in only a few remote locations, a few times a year. Each female lays around 200 eggs, creating huge egg masses. Eventually the tadpoles will drop into the water below.
Brandon Güell/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Sloth dilemma
Highly commended, Urban Wildlife
The brown-throated sloth had already made it across a road, but to reach the next clump of trees it needed to return to the ground and crawl. Meeting a big dog, it froze. Suzi watched fearfully but the dog, having taken part in a sloth-safety training programme with Sloth Conservation Foundation, simply sniffed it. Sloths live in trees and rarely descend to the forest floor. With increasing habitat loss and the fragmentation of the forest, they are forced on vulnerable journeys across urbanised areas to find food, suitable habitats and mates.
Suzi Eszterhas/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The right look
Highly commended, Animal Portraits
With the whale investigating him, Richard Robinson’s main challenge was to swim far enough from the curious calf to photograph it. The encounter lasted 30 minutes, with the whale circling him, swimming off, then returning for another look. New Zealand’s population of southern right whales, known as ‘tohorā’ in Māori, were hunted to near extinction by European whalers in the 1800s, then by Soviet whalers in the 1900s. Now protected, the population has bounced back from a small group including just 13 breeding females, to more than 2,000 individuals.
Richard Robinson/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Just one day’s catch
Highly commended, Oceans: The Bigger Picture
Srikanth Mannepuri was shocked to see so many recently caught marlin and sailfish in a single place in one morning. To demonstrate the scale of the fish market, he used a drone to take the image from a bird’s-eye view. Sailfish and marlin are top ocean predators essential to ecosystems. Globally, 85% of fish stocks are currently overexploited by humans. Without urgent efforts to protect marine habitats and create truly sustainable fishing practices, we will soon begin to lose species forever.
Srikanth Mannepuri/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Burrow mates
Highly commended, Animals in their Environment
Morgan Heim reveals an intimate encounter between a beetle and a rabbit. Morgan set up camera traps by the active burrows of pygmy rabbits in the Columbia Basin to observe their comings and goings. She was delighted by this moment of interaction as one of the rabbits sniffed at a stink beetle that had been sheltering in its burrow. These rabbits live in Washington state’s Columbia Basin. The Basin has become increasingly overgrazed, and parts have been cleared for crop growing. With this small, isolated population facing extinction, conservationists have intervened, boosting numbers to 150 and rising.
Morgan Heim/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Life and death in fur farming
Highly commended, Photojournalism
For Jo-Anne McArthur it is important to document cruelty in order to instigate change. At a Swedish mink farm, the sign above a cramped, inhospitable cage indicates two kits have died. Due to legislation changes since this photo was taken, farms now have slightly larger cages, but the standard of life remains poor. In 2020 scientists discovered that mink could catch the Covid-19 virus and that it could mutate and be transmitted to humans. In response, Denmark shut down its industry. In 2022 in Sweden, after a temporary ban on breeding, the government allowed some mink farms to reopen.
Jo-Anne McArthur/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The bonobo and the mongoose
Highly commended, Behaviour: Mammals
Christian Ziegler was tracking a group of these endangered great apes that are being studied by Barbara Fruth of the Max-Planck Society. He recalls setting out ‘before light’, wading ‘chest-deep through flooded forest’, and frequently walking 20 kilometres (12 miles) a day. ‘The bonobo held and stroked the little mongoose for more than an hour.’ The situation probably had a darker beginning. Bonobos are omnivores and eat mainly fruit but occasionally they hunt. The mongoose pup – eventually released unharmed – may have been taken when its mother was killed.
Christian Ziegler/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.

Header image © Morgan Heim