A photo capturing the frenzy of South Africa’s sardine-run has topped National Geographic’s best of the year.
The photo was taken by Frenchman George Lecouer off the coast of Port Saint John’s in the Eastern Cape and beat thousands of other entries across the world.
A panel of photographers and editors from National Geographic ranked 2016’s most powerful photos of natural phenomena, with the competition split into four categories — Landscapes, Action, Animal Portraits, and Environmental issues.
“I captured this image during the migration of the sardines along the wild coast of South Africa”, said Lecouer. “Natural predation, sardines are preyed upon by cape gannet birds and common dolphins. The hunt begins with common dolphins that have developed special hunting techniques.”
“With remarkable eyesight, the gannets follow the dolphins before diving in a free fall from 30 to 40 meters high, piercing the surface of the water head first at a speed of 80km/h to get their fill of sardines.”
Lecouer takes home £2,000 (R34,700) in prize money and a 10-day trip for two to the Galápagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions.
You view the winners of each category, below:
Grand Prize Winner and Action Winner — ‘Sardine Run’ (Greg Lecoeur)
Animal Portraits Winner — ‘Dragging you deep into the woods!’ (Varun Aditya)
Winner, Landscape — ‘Struggle of life’ (Jacob Kaptein)
Environmental Issues Winner — ‘Life and Death’ (Vadim Balakin)