Whale’s demise inspires top shot

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For two years in a row, captivating images taken in the Great Southern have taken out top prizes at the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year awards.

Last year, WA photographer Dylan Fox won the landscape category with his shot of Bluff Knoll at sunrise.

This year, the Great Southern went one better.

An image of a fin whale carcass at Cheynes Beach in May 2018 has given Broome professional photographer Mat Beetson the title of Nature Photographer of the Year.

Mr Beetson’s photo, Fin Whale’s Demise, was selected from 2219 entries.

He said witnessing the whale’s demise was surreal and he felt humbled to receive such recognition from the judges.

“I launched the drone to see the aerial view and captured a sequence of photographs; this shot was one of the last ones I took and I was very lucky that the shark came back for look,” he said.

The judges chosen to adjudicate the competition said they had never seen anything that remotely resembled Mr Beetson’s fin whale image.

“Unique and exciting, it reveals incredible beauty in death,” the judges said.

“Rather than being an inanimate scene, the image is given life by the circling shark, which in turn reminds us of the ecological function of the dead whale, providing food and energy to the living organisms around it.

“The image surprises us by revealing such a shocking scene in a beautiful setting, and speaks volumes of the new dimension the latest technology has opened up for photographers.”

Director of the South Australian Museum Brian Oldman said Mr Beetson’s photo was the first drone image to win the prestigious competition.

“It’s a reflection of the continuous growth in photographers adopting new technology year on year,” Mr Oldman said.

“By having technology such as drones accessible to photographers it broadens the scope to capture moments that often aren’t seen by the naked eye.”

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