The Royal Society recently held the first photography competition in its long history. The London-based fellowship of scientists—which prides itself on being the "oldest scientific academy in continuous existence"—invited readers and authors of the group's journal, Royal Society Publishing, to submit images that relate to biological principles in three categories: Behavior, Ecology and Environmental Science, and Evolutionary Biology. The winners of the contest were officially announced this week.

A Belgium-based biologist named Bert Willaert took the title of overall winner and also earned the top honors (and cash prize of £500) for his image in the Ecology and Environmental Science category. His photograph, titled Tadpoles overhead, was shot from a very unusual angle: the bottom of a pond, beneath an army of common toad tadpoles.

"Clear water is hard to come across in the part of Belgium where I live, as a consequence of eutrophication," Willaert explained in a press release shared by Royal Society Publishing. "Algae grows from the nutrients flushed down the drains in detergents and sewage, clouding the waters and suffocating other oxygen-dependent life. When I noticed these common toad tadpoles in the crystal clear canal I wanted to capture the chance encounter from their perspective."

"Tadpoles overhead," Bert Willaert, Belgium
Overall winner
Category winner: Ecology and Environmental Science
Royal Society Publishing

The other category winners: Ulrike Bauer in the Evolutionary Biology category for a macro image of a fern holding a droplet of water on its hydrophilic leaves (below), and Claudia Pogoreutz in the Behavior category for a photo of a school of fish avoiding a young black-tip reef shark (lead story image). Their images will be on display at the Life through a lens: Celebrating science photography exhibit, which opens at The Royal Society on November 26.

 

"Fern with a drysuit," Ulrike Bauer, UK
Category winner: Evolutionary Biology
Royal Society Publishing 

There were also several runner-ups and special commendations selected in the competition, a few of which are included in the gallery below. Click through to The Royal Society to see all of the images and to learn more about the fellowship and the contest.

"Ancestry. Dominance. Endangered," Martha M. Robbins, Germany

Runner up: Ecology and Environmental Science
Royal Society Publishing

"Smashing," Luca Antonio Marino, Italy
Runner up: Behavior
Royal Society Publishing

 

"Sand has scales," Fabio Pupin, Italy
Runner up: Evolutionary Biology
Royal Society Publishing


"Caribbean brain coral,"Evan D'Alessandro, USA
Special commendation: Proceedings B Publisher’s choice
Royal Society Publishing 

 

"A baboon gets lost in his thoughts,"Davide Gaglio, South Africa
Special commendation
Royal Society Publishing 

 

"Runs at Dawn,"Jose Juan Hernandez Martinez, Spain
Special commendation: Biology Letters Publisher’s choice
Royal Society Publishing 


"Fish louse,"Steve Gschmeissner, UK
Special commendation
Royal Society Publishing