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Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Opens in Sydney

Image of large whale stranded in ocean.August 16, 2019

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The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year 2019 exhibition opens today at the Powerhouse Museum in partnership with the Australian Museum until 20 October 2019.

The exhibition, produced by the South Australian Museum, includes ‘Fin Whale’s Demise’ by Western Australian photographer Mat Beetson which was announced as the winner of the 2019 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Competition by South Australian Museum this week.

Captured by Mat Beetson while on a photographic trip with a friend, the photograph taken in Cheynes Beach in Albany, WA with a DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drone, sees a beached Fin Whale being circled by sharks. The photograph is the competition’s first drone picture to be chosen as the overall winner, and was selected by a panel of judges from a selection of over 2000 submissions.

Winner Mat Beetson said: “I was actually in the Great Southern region of WA to photograph the beautiful beaches but a turn in weather with a crazy storm made it a little tough to fly a drone. We heard from some locals that there was a beached whale at Cheynes Beach. It was unreal, arriving at a peaceful coastal town with a pristine beach and then seeing this huge whale not even five metres from shore – we then noticed the thrashing close by and realised that a few sharks had also stopped by. I launched the drone to see the aerial view and captured a sequence of photographs, this shot was one of the last ones I took and I was very lucky that the shark came back for a look.”

Beetson has been involved in photography for more than 20 years with his focus and passion being landscapes and wildlife.

Competition judges Justin Gilligan, Glenn McKimmin and Tui De Roy said: “Despite seeing millions of nature photographs over the decades, we have never seen anything that remotely resembles this image. Unique and exciting, it reveals incredible beauty in death. Rather than being an inanimate scene, the image is given life by the circling shark, which in turn reminds us of the ecological function of the dead whale, providing food and energy to the living organisms around it. The image surprises by revealing such a shocking scene in a beautiful setting, and speaks volumes of the new dimension the latest technology has opened up for photographers.”

The winners and runners-up of the ten categories have also been announced here.

The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year 2019 exhibition opens today at the Powerhouse Museum.

Powerhouse Museum
16 August to 20 October 2019

South Australian Museum
16 August to 10 November 2019

Images: here
Please note watermarked images must be used online, and please see Image Usage Requirements document included in folder.

For Powerhouse Museum enquiries
Sasha Haughan
0405 006 035

For South Australian Museum enquiries
Ashleigh Glynn
0466 389 019


The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition was formerly known as ANZANG. The competition and resulting exhibition are owned, managed and produced by the South Australian Museum. The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition is a partnership between the South Australian Museum and Australian Geographic. Coral Expeditions joined in 2018 as the Presenting Partner. Open to photographers of all ages, skill levels and nationalities, the competition asks people to submit images of fauna, flora or landscapes in Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and the New Guinea regions. The South Australian Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of Dr Stuart Miller AM, founder and patron of ANZANG, and his sister Mrs Alison Huber in memory of their parents, Dr Robert and Mrs Clarice Miller, both late of Waikerie, South Australia.