Huge humpback whale leaping from water and eagle fighting fox among amazing pics shortlisted for wildlife prize

THESE stunning snaps capturing the breathtaking beauty of our planet’s wildlife are among the pictures that have wowed photography competition judges.

One remarkable photo shows a huge humpback whale leaping from the water just inches from a boat in California.

Douglas Croft/2021 National Wildlife Photo Contest/TNGA humpback whale leaping out the ocean in Monterey Bay, California[/caption]

Fahad Alenezi/2021 National Wildlife Photo Contest/TNGA fox taking on an eagle in an unlikely battle on the Japanese island of Hokkaido[/caption]

Lisa Luckenbach/2021 National Wildlife Photo Contest/TNGA stunning sea anemone in California looks ‘like the eye of a lizard’[/caption]

Thomas Vijayan/2021 National Wildlife Photo Contest/TNGAn orangutan looking up at the camera as he climbs up a tree in Borneo, Indonesia[/caption]

John Fortener/2021 National Wildlife Photo Contest/TNGOne lucky photographer caught this stunning snowy owl cruising through Missaukee County, Michigan on camera[/caption]

Unsurprisingly, the glorious pic bagged first place in one category of National Wildlife Magazine’s photo contest after being captured by Douglas Croft in California’s Monterey Bay.

Another sensational snap shows an eagle in battle with a fox on the frozen shores of Japanese island Hokkaido, with the four-legged creature appearing to take a snap at the formidable bird as it spreads its powerful wings.

Fahad Alenezi – who witnessed the unlikely fight – said as the brazen fox moved into grab a bite, the eagle “took exception to the incursion and gave the fox what looks like a good slap with its wings”.

And while beauty may well be in the eye of the beholder, there is no denying the alluring look of a sea anemone glistening beneath the Californian sea with its green and blue colours.

According to its photographer Lisa Luckenbach, sea anemone – flanked by a colourful crust of pebbles – looks “like the eye of a lizard”.

Other striking snaps show a baby elephant walking among a herd of adults in Kenya, an eye-catching snowy owl in flight in Michigan and an orangutan appearing to grin as he clips up a tree in Indonesia.

The National Wildlife Federation, which runs the contest, received more than 40,400 entries this year – making it hard for judges to pick standouts.

Its website says: “The National Wildlife Photo Contest, which began five decades ago, celebrates the power of photography to advance conservation and connect both photographers and viewers with wildlife and the outdoors.

“Compelling nature images can help protect wildlife in profound ways.”

Manoj Shah/2021 National Wildlife Photo Contest/TNGA baby elephant walking among a herd of adults just after sunrise in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve[/caption]

Addie Leimroth/2021 National Wildlife Photo Contest/TNGA photographer spotted this gopher snake hiding in the Arizona desert[/caption]

Qiang Zhang/2021 National Wildlife Photo Contest/TNGA young golden snub-nosed monkey slinging to its mum in China’s Qinling Mountains[/caption]

James Anderson/2021 National Wildlife Photo Contest/TNGTwo bighorn rams push against each other as snow falls down in Canada[/caption]

Nancy Szostak Wright/2021 National Wildlife Photo Contest/TNGA bee nestling in the centre of a flower in a public garden in Massachusetts[/caption]