In the deep waters surrounding the island of Romblon in the Philippines, a tiny, translucent moray eel larva twirls its body into the shape of a heart. Photographer Liang Fu captured the ethereal photo during a night dive, 28 metres below the water’s surface. The photo is among the winners of the latest Close-up Photographer of the Year competition.
“I was extremely fortunate to capture this moment with my camera,” said Fu in a statement. “The eel remained at that depth for less than 10 seconds before swimming down and disappearing into the darkness.”
In another winning image, an opulent ice crown sits atop a miniature slime mould (Didymium squamulosum) growing on the floor of Hodgemoor Wood in Buckinghamshire, UK. Barry Webb’s shot took the top prize in the fungi and slime moulds category of the competition.
Looking up towards the skies, a Eurasian nuthatch (Sitta europaea) is in flight among the sprawling trees in a Hungarian woodland. These small, short-tailed birds can be found throughout Europe and can be identified by their long blue bill, black eye-stripe and blueish-grey upper body. To take the shot, photographer Csaba Daróczi placed his GoPro camera inside a hollow tree stump and placed a sunflower nearby to entice wildlife.
This robber fly – named for its exceptional predatory skills – is about to tuck into an unlucky leafhopper in Peter Grob’s vibrant photograph. Grob, who works in airport security, stumbled upon the cutthroat scene while on a visit to Penang Island in Malaysia.
The dazzling, multicolour eggs of a female fairy shrimp can be seen in this close-up snap taken by biologist René Krekels in Germany. The marine creatures can be found in seasonal wetlands and extremely salty lakes around the globe, from the world’s hottest desert to the chilly climes of Antarctica. Once hatched, a fairy shrimp will take 18 days to mature and live for just a few months.
Gerhard Vlcek captured this fluorescent cross-section of European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) through a microscope. The bright orange-red tubes are the vascular bundles, which transport food and water through the grass and enclose the green tissue. For this shot, Vlcek sliced a 30-micrometre-thick cross-section of a blade of grass and meticulously stained the sample with dyes using a tiny brush.