Spectacular ‘Tadpoles Overhead’ wins Royal Society Publishing photography competition

The spectacular photo ‘Tadpoles Overhead’ has won the inaugural Royal Society Publishing photography competition. The photograph, showing tadpoles that appear to be flying across a bright blue sky, was taken by Bert Willaert, a scientist and photographer while snorkeling in a canal in Belgium.

In its publishing blog, the Royal Society said it received more than 1,000 entries to its Royal Society Publishing photography competition, adding that it was a difficult task choosing the winner from the outstanding selection of entries.

The winning photograph, the panel decided, more than satisfied the two requirements – that the image should be both of scientific importance and interest, as well as striking.

Tadpoles overhead winner Royal Society Publishing photography‘Tadpoles Overhead’, in the Ecology and Environmental Science Category, was the winning photograph. (Image: Royal Society)

According to Judge Alex Badyaev:

“The winning photo (tadpoles in the clouds) communicates the power of a common biological phenomenon visualized in a new light and from a perspective that emphasizes the other half of ecosystem; the half that we usually miss when looking down at a tadpoles’ puddle, but one that is very much a part of the tadpoles’ own view – the clouds, the trees and the sky.”

Judging panel colleague, Claire Spottiswoode, added:

“I think this unusual image is terrific because it makes us think about the world from a tadpole’s perspective (and that of a tadpole predator or parasite too). It also reminds us that fascinating ecosystems are never far away…”

Winners of remaining categories:

Evolutionary Biology Category: the winner – ‘Fern Wearing a Drysuit’, submitted by Ulrike Bauer, portrays the amazing water-repellent properties of the leaves of Salvinia molesta, a water fern.

Fern Wearing a Drysuit‘Fern Wearing a Drysuit’ came top in the Evolutionary Biology Category. (Image: Royal Society)

Judging panel member, Innes Cuthill, said he was struck by the image because “the aesthetics appeal immediately, but the biologist can also admire the adaptations for water-repellency in the intricate structures of the hairs on the fern’s surface.”

Behaviour Category: the winner – ‘Going with the Flow: Schooling to Avoid a Predator’ – submitted by Claudia Pogoreutz, demonstrates the predator-avoidance behaviour of the tropical clupeid fish and the predatory behaviour of a black tip reef shark.

Going with the Flow Schooling to Avoid a Predator‘Going with the Flow: Schooling to Avoid a Predator’ won in the Behaviour Category. (Image: Royal Society)

Prof. Cuthill said of the image:

“The coordinated motion of the fleeing fish and the dynamic response of the shark are both beautifully evoked in this wonderful composition – beauty and a tingle of fear in a single image.”

The competition was run as a collaboration between two of the Royal Society’s research journals: Biology Letters and Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, as part of the Society’s 350th anniversary of scholarly publishing.