Scroll down to view photographs from selected winners, whose images “showcase the awe-inspiring and diverse natural world,” while inspiring us to explore and preserve our planet’s stunning beauty.
Varun Aditya/2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year. Dragging you deep into the woods!
1st Place—Animal Portraits: I shot this at Amboli, Maharashtra, India, on July 24, 2016, during a morning stroll into the blissful rain forest. Ceaseless drizzles dampened the woods for 10 hours a day; the serene gloom kept me guessing if it was night or day. The heavy fog, chilling breeze, and perennial silence could calm roaring sprits. And there I saw this beauty. I wondered if I needed more reasons to capture the habitat, for I was blessed to see this at the place I was at. I immediately switched from the macro to the wide-angle lens and composed this frame.
Vadim Balakin/2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year. Life and Death.
1st Place—Environmental Issues: These polar bear remains have been discovered at one of the islands of northern Svalbard, Norway. We do not know whether the bear died from starving or aging, but more likely if we see the good teeth status, it was from starving. They say nowadays that such remains are found very often, as global warming and the ice situation influence the polar bear population.
Jacob Kaptein/2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year. Struggle of life.
1st Place—Landscapes: Last year I participated in the Marius van der Sandt Beurs. This scholarship stimulates photography by young photographers. For a whole year I was guided by some excellent nature photographers to realize a project I wanted to accomplish. I chose a natural stream restoration project of a nature organization in the Netherlands. The first time I entered this patch of forest, I immediately saw this little beech. I came back several times to photograph it. One evening, just after sunset, all the light conditions were perfect. I stood in the cold water for more than an hour making many photos while I experimented with different shutter speeds.
Jacob Kaptein/2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year. Approach.
2nd Place—Action: An EF2 tornado bears down on a home in Wray, Colorado- May 7, 2016. As soon as we were safe, as the tornado roared off into the distance through a field before roping out, we scrambled up the hill to check on the residents.Thankfully, everyone was alright, and we were grateful for that. As I was checking in with a young woman coming out of the basement, we became very aware of a strong new circulation – right above our heads. We needed to run for cover, and did so before saying a proper goodbye.
Michael O’Neill/2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year. Proud Momma.
2nd Place—Animal Portraits: A female peacock bass guards her brood in a Miami, Florida, freshwater lake. She will protect her young fry from a variety of predatory fish until they are large enough to fend for themselves. This tropical freshwater species, also known as the peacock cichlid, was introduced in Florida in the mid-1980s from South America to control the tilapia population, another invasive species. Throughout its native range (and in Florida) it’s a prized sportfish known for its fighting spirit.
Chris McCann/2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year. Outside Facebook HQ.
2nd Place—Environmental Issues: Eighty percent of the San Francisco Bay Area wetlands—16,500 acres—has been developed for salt mining. Water is channeled into these large ponds, leaves through evaporation, and the salt is then collected. The tint of each pond is an indication of its salinity. Microorganisms inside the pond change color according to the salinity of its environment. This high-salinity salt pond is located right next to Facebook headquarters, where about 4,000 people work every day.
Alessandro Gruzza/2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year. Wild rink.
2nd Place—Landscapes: The first cold days of winter have frozen the surface of a pond. The first snowfall has revealed its delicate beauty. A long shutter speed enhances the movement of the clouds around Mt. Cimon de la Pala, Paneveggio-Pale San Martino Natural Park, Italy