A breathtaking image of a reef shark gliding through the cool waters of a South Pacific lagoon, metres from the photographer's lens, earned international acclaim.
German-born Tobias Bernhard claimed the prestigious accolade of BG wildlife photographer of the year at the world's biggest photographic competition, which attracted 19,000 entries from 60 nations.
The deft underwater shot, which captured the streamlined beauty of its subject, was singled out from an array of winning wildlife images ranging from cheeky, snub-nosed monkeys to frolicking pelicans and mating damselflies.
Mr Bernhard had spent several weeks building a rapport with the community of sharks in the Beveridge reef in order to capture the grace and speed of the creatures on camera.
Niall Benvie, a wildlife photographer and one of the competition judges, commended Mr Bernhard's image at the ceremony, held at London's Natural History Museum, last night.
"This picture is loaded with tension; tension between the warm and cool tones and between the viewer and the subject. The line of the fish is dynamic and the sense of motion adds to the power of the image," he said.
Three photographs from the junior category and 13 other photographs in the central category, which included an evocative shot of a bison silhouetted on a mountain ridge and a puffin poking its beak comically from beneath some foliage, were also recognised as winning images.
The Belgian photographer Rony Vander Elst scooped first prize in the junior category for the second year running with his quirky image of a fly atop a boletus fungus, which he had managed to capture on film in the two minutes it had rested there.
The competition was organised by the museum and the BBC Wildlife Magazine, and an assortment of 115 best and commended pictures will be on display to the public at the Natural History Museum's Jerwood Gallery from Saturday until 11 March next year.Reuse content