The Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Winners with animal magic

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The Independent Online

The penetrating stare of a Dalmatian pelican was captured by Nils Grundmann when he was only 10 years old. Yesterday the image won him the youngest age group award for the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

"The bird stared at me hard, curious about my behaviour - which is when I took the shot," said Nils.

Other winning images, chosen from more than 18,000 entries, include the Indo-Malayan mimic octopus, discovered in 1998, taken by Michael AW from Singapore. The octopus, pictured wearing its "normal" brown and white coat, can imitate dangerous animals to deter predators.

The mating dance of flamingos, entitled Bolshoi Ballet, was taken by Todd Gustafson from the US. Eight birds wait on the fringes of Lake Nakuru in Kenya to join the seasonal "dance" that can expand to hundreds of birds circling and stretching their necks.

An image of a seal peering through a round hole in the ice was among the runners-up. The picture was taken on Svalbard, an Arctic island north of Norway, by Baard Ness. "I spotted a hole and saw stirrings. I waited motionlessly next to it until a head popped up," he said.

The photos are on display at the Natural History Museum from Saturday, and will tour the country next spring.