This huge gathering of sperm whales was captured off Sri Lanka’s northeast coast by Tony Wu (US). A specialist in photographing sperm whales, the image titled “The giant gathering” was the “Behaviour: Mammals” category winner at this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) competition. Very rarely have such scenes been witnessed by cameras.
The Photo: Giant gathering
Dozens of sperm whales mingled noisily off the coast, stacked as far as Tony could see. Immediately, he realised that this was something special – like a gathering of clans, these whales were part of a multi-day congregation. For Tony, the sight filled him with hope that ‘the recovery of sperm whale populations may be going well’.
The marble-like appearance of these whales is a sign of skin-sloughing. Large aggregations like this one will rub and roll against each other to exfoliate their neighbour’s dead skin, helping them to maintain hydrodynamic performance. The tactile contact also helps to reinforce social bonds.
The Photographer: Tony Wu, USA
Since 1995, Tony has combined his love of visual art with his interest in the marine world through underwater photography. He has recently focused on photographing cetaceans and documenting spawning aggregations of fish. Tony uses his photographs and writing to encourage others to appreciate and protect the beauty of the oceans. He is also a frequent public speaker.