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Vietnamese Photographer Clinches 2nd Prize in UK Biology Photo Competition

Trương Hoài Vũ's 'Hòn Yến marine ecosystem' nabbed the honor of runner-up in the 2021 Royal Society of Biology’s photography competition in the Photographer of The Year category.

The photo was taken during the summer, when low tide brings the normally submerged ecosystem into the open air. Surprisingly violent sea stars, occasionally considered the hyena of the ocean, can be seen in the foreground, while a variety of rock-tethered corals catch a few rare sun rays. In the background, fishing boats can be seen in the waters near Yen Islet, Phu Yen Province.

This year's contest received more than 1,600 submissions from around the world responding to the theme of “interconnected.” Entries were judged by a panel of naturalists and nature photographers. 

The winning photo was Vishwanath Birje's inspiring shot of the collaborative relationship wherein yellow aphids offer a sweet bodily secretion in exchange for protection from predators offered by ants. See the rest of the top picks here.

Vũ, a 20-year-old Phu Yen native currently studying in Saigon, has an Instagram page that contains a number of stunning shots of Vietnamese landscapes. He was shortlisted for the Youth competition award in the Travel category for 2019's Sony World Photography Awards for a similar shot of coral. He explains that he began taking photographs in 10th grade, despite initial financial challenges in acquiring a camera, and hopes his landscape photos can inspire young people to follow their passions.

Vũ's entry in 2019's Sony World Photography Awards. Photo via Du Lich Vietnam

Hòn Yến was recognized as a national relic site in April 2018 and is considered one of the best places to see coral reefs in Vietnam. However, like much of the nation's reefs, the ecosystem is in danger due to pollution, global warming and human activity, including irresponsible tourism. One can hope photos such as Vũ's can highlight the beauty of nature and persuade people to be more mindful about the need of preservation. 

[Top photo via TheGuardian]