The first set of highly commended images included in the UK's Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition have been released, and feature a picture-perfect mosquito, a blood-thirsty lioness and a curious cluster of narwhal shrimp.
The exhibition, now in its 57th year, is due to open at London's Natural History Museum on October 15.
More than 50,000 entries from photographers in 95 countries have been entered into the competition. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, October 12, at an event in the museum.
The commended categories include age ranges 10 years and under, and images by children aged 11 to 14, as well as ecologicallythemed categories, such as animal portraits, behaviour studies, urban wildlife, underwater and photojournalism.
"It was the overall quality of entries that took us by surprise. With most travel plans cancelled over the past year, photographers seem to have spent extra time considering what gems to submit," says chair of the judging panel, Roz Kidman Cox.
"There are stand-out pictures of unforgettable scenes and encounters – those unique wild moments, skillfully framed, that result from knowledge, experience and planning – but also fresh, beautiful observations of nature close to home or in close-up.
"The result is a collection of both thought-provoking images and ones that, in these dark times, remind us of the joy and wonder to be had from nature."
Among the highly commended images are Spanish photographer Sergio Marijuan’s young Iberian lynx framed in the doorway of an abandoned hayloft, Israeli-Canadian photographer Gil Wizen's image of a photogenic mosquito and French photographer Emelin Dupieux's Apollo butterfly settling on an oxeye daisy.
"These extraordinary images showcase the rich diversity of life on Earth and spark curiosity and wonder," says Dr Doug Gurr, director of the Natural History Museum.
"Telling the story of a planet under pressure, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition illuminates the urgent challenges we face and the collective action we need to take. This year’s inspiring exhibition will move and empower audiences to advocate for the natural world."
After the exhibition is unveiled at the Natural History Museum, the 100 images will be taken on a UK and international tour. The exhibition will be on display at the Natural History Museum, London from Friday, October 15, until Sunday, June 5.