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Winner, Behavior: Birds -- Emperor penguins jump from the water to escape predatory leopard seals on the edge of the Ross Sea in Antarctica. The birds can skyrocket up to two meters out of the water. The penguins' survival is vital to that of their 2-month-old chicks, hungrily waiting some 10 kilometers away. (Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012)

Extreme Animal Portraits: Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Winners

by Coburn Dukehart
Oct 19, 2012

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Coburn Dukehart

I admit it: As much as I love hard-hitting photojournalism, there is something about photos of animals that gets me every time. So when I found out that the 2012 Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest was announcing its winners, I had to take a look.

The contest, now in its 48th year, pulls together the best of nature photography from around the world. Almost 48,000 images are judged by an international panel, and the winners — about 100 in all — will be exhibited at the Natural History Museum in London starting Friday.

While many professional photographers received top recognition (including Steve Winter and Paul Nicklen, who have been featured on The Picture Show), many newcomers were also recognized. The contest even has categories for young photographers ages 10 and under.

"It amazes me to discover new and startling moments that have never been seen before," said Jim Brandenburg, chairman of the judging panel, in a recent press release.

The photos will be on exhibit at London's Natural History Museum from Oct. 19 through March 2013, before going on a world tour.

And while we can only show 10 of the photos here, you can check out all of the winning and commended images on the Natural History Museum's website.

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