Finnish school boy Alex Marttunen, 11, snapped an amazing photo while on family vacation in Thailand: a shot of a hermit crab that has made its home into a broken bottle neck. Little did he know that the image would be one of the eight winners in a National Geographic biodiversity photography competition.
An award ceremony on December 4 at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington DC celebrated Alex and the other seven winners. The young winners of the "See the Bigger Picture" competition were selected from 99 countries. They are aged 8 to 16 years and hail from Poland, Germany, the Dominican Republic, France, the United States and Finland. The prize for all youngsters was a three-day trip to the U.S. capital with their parents.
The international photography competition was developed through a partnership between National Geographic, Airbus and the Secretariat of the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and it encouraged young people to engage in nature and consider the global loss of biodiversity.
At the award ceremony, veteran photographer Joel Sartore presented Alex with a copy of his image depicting penguins. The young winner was also congratulated by Executive Secretary of the CBD, Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf and Allan McArtor, Chairman of Airbus Americas. Ambassador Pekka Lintu promised Alex that his winning shot would be displayed at the Finnish embassy.
Alex, who traveled to Washington with his mother Rita, lives in Vantaa. On a family vacation in Thailand an intriguing sight caught his attention: a little hermit crab had crawled into a broken bottle neck and turned it into a make-shift home. Alex borrowed his parents' digital camera and snapped a close-up shot, which he later submitted for the competition following his mother's suggestion.
Joel Sartore, who served as the expert judge of the competition, said that while all the winning photos were amazing in their beauty, Alex's shot was especially vibrant in its detail. "I have tried to shoot hermit crabs on beaches all over the world and have never shot anything as good as this", Mr. Sartore said.
When asked whether he is considering a career as a National Geographic photographer, Alex smiled and said "maybe". "I like to take photos of nature and animals," the young winner described his favorite subjects.