Behaviour 2019

Shortlisted entries in the Behaviour category from the 2019 Royal Society Publishing Photography Competition.

Bluespotted muskippers in muddy water.

Behaviour Winner 'Mudskipper turf war' by Daniel Field. 'Bluespotted mudskippers (Boleophthalmus caeruleomaculatus), are amphibious fish common in mangrove habitats of Southeast Asia. Males are extremely territorial, engaging in frequent skirmishes with their neighbours. Such skirmishes may lead to dramatic facial expressions like those seen here. While photographing wading birds in the famous Mai Po wetlands, Hong Kong, I was distracted by the mesmerizing territorial displays of hundreds of mudskippers near the shore. Adjacent individuals would frequently engage in brief skirmishes, allowing me to select the optimal angle for illustrating their aggressive interactions. Modifications limited to cropping, minor sharpening and minor white-balance correction. Camera: Nikon D7200 body. Lens: AF-S VR Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G IF-ED II.'

A fish feeding on a jellyfish.

Behaviour Runner up 'Jellyfish association' by Eduardo Sampaio. 'Jellyfish-fish associations happen for a multitude of reasons. However, in this case, it is the simplest one: predation. A young blue (a.k.a. banded) trevally (Carangoides ferdau) feeds on the purple jellyfish (Thysanostoma loriferum), and guards it against others that may have the same idea. Given the length and thickness of these tentacles, together with the fact that jellyfish can regenerate its cells at a considerable speed, this interaction can be sustained for several days. When jellyfish are large, they can also be used as shelter by fish. The photo has been slightly processed through cropping, adjusting colour balance, contrast and saturation. Camera: Sony Alpha II. Lens: Sony f/4 24-70mm. F-stop: f/9. Exposure time: 1/2000 sec. ISO: 200. Focal length: 70 mm.'

Two Northern Nutcrackers fighting over food in a wintery landscape.

Behaviour Honourable mention 'Fight club' by Alwin Hardenbol. 'Northern Nutcrackers (Nucifraga caryocatactes) often fight over food in the winter, as I saw while on the Vitosha mountain massif, Bulgaria. This could be explained by their typical behaviour of storing food in caches during wintertime. This caching of food is essential to their survival and their breeding strategy, because they usually start the breeding process when there is still snow on the ground. It could, therefore, be worth fighting over the available food to have a better breeding success. As the Nutcrackers were fighting quite frequently, I adjusted my shutter speed to freeze the motion and zoomed out so as not to clip the wings from the frame. I also overexposed the image in-camera considerably for artistic reasons. Adjustments: Sharpened, adjusted tone and contrast, increased saturation, dodged and burned parts, reduced noise and cropped. Camera: Nikon D500. Lens: Nikon 80-400mm at 112 mm, with ISO 5600, f/5.6 and 1/1600s.