Laurent Ballesta has secured the coveted title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) 2023 with his mesmerizing image of a mysterious horseshoe crab. This golden marine arthropod was captured in its natural habitat, nestled on the seabed near Pangatalan Island in the Philippines. What makes this photo even more intriguing is the presence of three small fish, strategically tracking the crab, hoping to uncover an opportune meal within the sediment.
This remarkable achievement makes Ballesta only the second photographer in WPY’s 59-year history to claim victory twice. His previous grand prize win came in 2021 for his captivating shot of a trio of groupers engaged in spawning behavior.
The announcement of Ballesta’s latest win took place during a gala dinner held at London’s Natural History Museum. Kathy Moran, who chaired the judging panel, outlined the four essential criteria for a winning image: “aesthetics,” “moment,” “narrative,” and an increasingly important factor, “something that has a conservation edge to it.” Ballesta’s photograph met these criteria admirably.
Ms. Moran praised the luminosity of Ballesta’s picture, emphasizing how it evokes a sense of an alien entity floating across the ocean floor. However, she also stressed the image’s significance in highlighting the crucial role these creatures play in maintaining ocean health and, by extension, human health. The photo masterfully encapsulated all these elements, earning Ballesta well-deserved recognition as the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.