13 stunning images from the Galapagos Conservation Trust's 2021 photo contest

From marine iguanas to lava formations, photographers capture life in one of the world's most unique ecosystems

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From Christmas coloured amphibians to Darwin’s finches, the winning images in the Galapagos Conservation Trust's 2021 Photography Competition highlight some of nature’s treasures that only exist in this unique ecosystem of the Pacific islands.

This year’s winning images chosen by the judges have been published with a public vote now continuing to secure a people’s choice winner. Nominations are open until Thursday, August 12.

The winning gallery highlights some of the world's best nature photography from one of the most unique destinations on the planet.

Entries were judged by an expert panel including James Honeyborne, executive producer of BBC’s Blue Planet II, photographer Jay McLaughlin and Ralph Pannell, director of travel company Aqua-Firma.

The overall winning image was taken by photographer Leighton Lum. His shot of a pair of Nazca boobies tending to their chick on Espanola island captured the attention of the judges.

Courtesy Galapagos Conservation Trust

McLaughlin loved the “wide angle of this ‘family photo' and the composition that it creates".

Lum said the experience of seeing the birds with their chick on Espanola was “quite amazing".

Entries had to be submitted to the Galapagos Conservation Trust under one of six categories. These included Birds of Galapagos, Up Close and Personal, Coastal and Marine, Animals in Action, Landscape and Urban life.

“This year due to a reduction in tourism to Galapagos, we had around 200 entries, which is a little down on previous years – but the quality of the images is very high,” said a spokesperson for the Galapagos Conservation Trust.

Lum also took first place for his image of a Galapagos marine iguana in the Up Close and Personal category.

To select your favourite image in the public vote, visit the Galapagos Conservation Trust's website.

The Unesco World Heritage-listed Galapagos Islands reopened to tourists in July after being put under a strict lockdown in the spring of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, visitor numbers remain scarce and cruises, a critical element for the region’s tourism sector, continue to be greatly reduced.

In May this year, the world-famous islands made headlines again when Leonardo DiCaprio pledged $43 million to enact sweeping conservation operations across Galapagos.

The actor’s social media accounts were taken over by a wildlife veterinarian and island restoration specialist for the announcement.

Updated: August 06, 2021, 1:45 PM