British Wildlife Photography Awards winners announced, with image of marine waste taking out top prize

Organizers of the British Wildlife Photography Awards have announced the winners of this year’s competition.

Called Ocean Drifter, an image of a soccer ball floating in the water with dozens of goose barnacles underneath took out the top prize.

The picture, taken by Ryan Stalker, is reminiscent of viral images of icebergs that reveal the shocking size of the clump of ice under the surface of the water.

“Above the water is just a football,” Stalker said of the image, featured above.

“But below the waterline is a colony of creatures.

“The football was washed up in Dorset after making a huge ocean journey across the Atlantic.

“More rubbish in the sea could increase the risk of more creatures making it to our shores and becoming invasive species.”

It is unclear where the ball came from or how it came to be in the water.

“I do wonder about the journey the ball has been on,” Stalker said.

“From initially being lost, then spending time in the tropics where the barnacles are native and perhaps years in the open ocean before arriving in Dorset.”

Stalker took out the overall prize for the competition, which attracted more than 14,000 entries.

From those entries, judges picked out the top two images in each category to be printed in a hardcover coffee-table book.

And the contest organizers are already looking towards next year, with entries now open for the 2025 competition.

Here are the top two photos for each category:

Animal behavior:

Three frogs floating on the surface of pond water

Three Frogs in Amplexus. (Ian Mason/British Wildlife Photography Awards)

The silhouettes of two water birds facing each other, with the sunset in the background

Dancing in the Dark.(Matthew Glover/British Wildlife Photography Awards)

Animal portraits:

A starling flying in the dark

Starling at Night.(Mark Williams/British Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A hare standing in brown grass looking directly at the camera.

Sunrise Hare.(Spencer Burrows/British Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Black and white:

A black and white photo of a raven flying above mountains

Raven Above Arran.(Robin Dodd/British Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

a Silhouette of a squirrel jumping through the air

Squirrel Silhouette.(Rosamund Macfarlane/British Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Botanical Britain:

A close up photo of mold spores against a pink background

Tiny Forest Balloons.(Jason McCombe/British Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A photo of seagrass at sunrise

Rainbow at Dawn.(Martin Stevens/British Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Coast and marine:

A soccer ball floating in the water with a whole lot of barnacles attached underneath

Ocean Drifter.(Ryan Stalker/British Wildlife Photography Awards)

An image of blue and green fireworks anemones against a black background

Fire in the Night.(Dan Bolt/British Wildlife Photographer of the Year)


A fox standing on the branch of a tree, looking towards the camera

The Tightrope Walker.(Daniel Valverde Fernandez/British Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A hare chewing on long green grass

The Crop Thief. (Steven Allcock/British Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Hidden Britain:

A close up of moths on stalks of wheat

Three’s a Crowd.(Ross Hoddinott/British Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A close up of a bee hanging off the bottom of a daisy

Daisy Danger.(Lucien Harris/British Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Urban wildlife:

A fox walking along an urban street

Day Walker.(Simon Withyman/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A tusked walrus laying on the pavement with a bunch of boats and lights behind it

What’s All the Fuss About?(Will Palmer/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

Wild woods:

An image of beech trees, looking directly up from the ground

Beeches for the Sky.(Graham Niven/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)

A sprig of fresh green leaves on a towering tree in the mist

Into the Mist.(Philip Selby/Wildlife Photographer of the Year)