Gi­ant Gath­er­ing

Tony Wu, USA

Amateur Photographer - - Wildlife Photographer Of The Year -

Win­ner 2017, Be­hav­iour: Mam­mals

Dozens of sperm whales min­gled nois­ily off Sri Lanka’s north­east coast, stacked as far down as Tony could see. Two-thirds of their pop­u­la­tion was wiped out due to in­dus­tri­alised whal­ing (be­fore it was banned in 1986), and this kind of ma­jor gath­er­ing could be ‘a sign that pop­u­la­tions are re­cov­er­ing’, says Tony, who has spent 17 years study­ing and pho­tograph­ing them. Tac­tile con­tact is a big part of their so­cial life, but it also helps slough off dead skin so the wa­ter was filled with skin flakes. Also, the cam­era-hous­ing dome was smeared with the whales’ oily se­cre­tions and clouds of dung re­leased as they emerged from the gi­gan­tic clus­ter. But through con­tin­u­ally swim­ming to re­po­si­tion him­self, Tony got a unique pho­to­graph of the mys­te­ri­ous In­dian Ocean gath­er­ing. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 15mm f/2.8, 1/250sec at f/6.3, ISO 800, Zil­lion hous­ing + Pro-One optical dome port

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