Amazing Places

These Are the Stunning Photos From the 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest

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Whoever said there's no greater artist than Mother Nature was right. Thanks to the professional nature photographers of the world, we regular folk can be exposed to all the unimaginably beautiful, surreal, confusing and even disgusting scenes Earth has to offer.

National Geographic has announced the winners of its 2017 Nature Photographer of the Year contest, and, as expected, the winning photos are jaw-droppers. The contest selects three winning images, an honorable mention, and a people's choice in each of the four categories: Aerials, Landscapes, Underwater, and Wildlife. The grand prize-winner this year was Jayaprakash Joghee Bojan, who scored $7,500 for his orangutan photo, as well as a feature in National Geographic magazine. Check out all the winners below and bask in all the wonderful beauty of nature!

AERIALS

1st Place: Photograph by Todd Kennedy

In Sydney, Australia, the Pacific Ocean at high tide breaks over a natural rock pool enlarged in the 1930s. Avoiding the crowds at the city’s many beaches, a local swims laps.

2nd Place: Photograph by Takahiro Bessho

Snow-covered metasequoia trees, also called dawn redwoods, interlace over a road in Takashima, Japan.

3rd Place: Photograph by Greg C.

On the flanks of Kilauea Volcano, Hawai’i, the world’s only lava ocean entry spills molten rock into the Pacific Ocean. After erupting in early 2016, the lava flow took about two months to reach the sea, six miles away.

Honorable Mention: Photograph by Agathe Bernard

Migratory gulls take flight from a cedar tree being washed downstream by a glacial river in British Columbia, Canada.

People's Choice: Photograph by David Swindler

Green vegetation blooms at the river’s edge, or riparian, zone of a meandering canyon in Utah.

LANDSCAPES

1st Place: Karim Iliya

Shortly before twilight in Kalapana, Hawai’i, a fragment of the cooled lava tube broke away, leaving the molten rock to fan in a fiery spray for less than half an hour before returning to a steady flow.

2nd Place: Photograph by Yuhan Liao

Sunlight glances off mineral strata of different colors in Dushanzi Grand Canyon, China.

3rd Place: Photograph by Mike Olbinski Photography

A summer thunderstorm unleashes lightning on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Honorable Mention: Photograph by Gheorghe Popa

Morning fog blurs the dead trees of Romania’s Lake Cuejdel, a natural reservoir created by landslides.

People's Choice: Photograph by Wojciech Kruczyński

Sunset illuminates a lighthouse and rainbow in the Faroe Islands.

UNDERWATER

1st Place: Photograph by Jim Obester

Blue-filtered strobe lights stimulate fluorescent pigments in the clear tentacles of a tube-dwelling anemone in Hood Canal, Washington.

2nd Place: Photograph by Shane Gross

Typically a shy species, a Caribbean reef shark investigates a remote-triggered camera in Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen marine protected area.

3rd Place: Photograph by Michael Patrick O'Neill

Buoyed by the Gulf Stream, a flying fish arcs through the night-dark water five miles off Palm Beach, Florida.

Honorable Mention: Photograph by Jennifer O'Neil

Preparing to strike, tarpon cut through a ribbon-like school of scad off the coast of Bonaire in The Caribbean Sea.

WILDLIFE

1st Place/Grand Prize: Photograph by Jayaprakash Joghee Bojan

A male orangutan peers from behind a tree while crossing a river in Borneo, Indonesia.

2nd Place: Photograph by Alejandro Prieto

An adult Caribbean pink flamingo feeds a chick in Yucatán, Mexico. Both parents alternate feeding chicks, at first with a liquid baby food called crop milk, and then with regurgitated food.

3rd Place: Photograph by Bence Mate

Two grey herons spar as a white-tailed eagle looks on in Hungary.

Honorable Mention: Photograph by Lance McMillan

A Japanese macaque indulges in some grooming time on the shores of the famous hot springs.

People's Choice: Photograph by Harry Collins

A great gray owl swoops to kill in a New Hampshire field.

Though there can only be one true grand prize winner, they are all winners in our book. Nature is pretty spectacular, isn't it?

Written by Joanie Faletto December 18, 2017