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Planet Earth

Peer Into the Rainforest's Stunning Biodiversity

Wildlife photographer Andreas Kay took almost 30,000 images of Ecuador's insects and amphibians during his life.

By Troy FarahNovember 22, 2019 5:40 PM
Kay Treehoppers
Treehoppers, Tritropidia galeata, as photographed by Andreas Kay. He shared the image to his Facebook account shortly before his death. (Credit: Andreas Kay)

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In mid-October, the world lost a great light: Andreas Kay, a wildlife photographer who celebrated the explosive biodiversity of insects, spiders, amphibians and other creatures in Ecuador’s teeming rainforest. Born in Köln, Germany, Kay was 56 and died from brain cancer. 

Kay shared more than 30,000 photos on Flickr, all of them now in the public domain. It will stand as his enduring gift to the world. Kay also made many contributions to science, including discovering the orchids Lepanthes kayii and Lepanthopsis kayii, which are named after him. He also rediscovered the Rio Faisanes stubfoot toad (Atelopus coynei), thought to be extinct for decades. Kay even made contributions in the field of physics — describing, for example, ways to enhance solar cells.

The photographer has more than 16,000 citations on Google Scholar.

Andreas-Kay
Wildlife photographer Andreas Kay. (Courtesy of Andreas Kay)

Kay’s last message, posted on Facebook and accompanied by an image of treehoppers, was simple yet heartbreaking: “I had a wonderful life but much more to learn. All the best for the future of Ecuador and this wonderful planet. Yours, Andreas.”

Here is a small selection of Kay’s breathtaking work. You can learn more about him at andreaskay.org.

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