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We're Going Apesh*t Over the Best Wildlife Photography on the Internet

We combed the 2016 National Geographic photography contest for the best animal pictures on the internet.
Photo and Caption by Takeshi Marumoto/ 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, “Water Drops.” Nagano, Japan. The Water Drops of melted snow. 

The internet, with its plethora of adorable animal videos, is basically one big homage to the critters inhabiting Planet Earth alongside us. But while brave baby elephants and orangutan and hound dog BFF's are “aww-inducing,” the animal portraits submitted to the 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest are downright awe-inspiring. There’s still three weeks left in this year’s competition, but as an homage to our furry, feathered, slimy, scaled friends, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite wildlife shots submitted so far.


Photo and Caption by Mike Korostelev/ 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, “Ocean Guest.” Sleeping walrus on the shore


Photo and Caption by p. Kuhn/ 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, "NEVER bother Dad when he's sleeping." During our trip to Botswana, we came across two lionesses and their six cubs, resting under a bush during mid-day. This male lion came along to visit the den.  The females were very wary at first.  We were told that a male lion will kill cubs that aren't his offspring. Fortunately, he laid down with the cubs and closed his eyes to sleep.  The cubs were VERY excited to see their Dad! This little guy was trying so hard to get him to play! Dad was definitely NOT happy to be woken up.


Photo and Caption by Suzan Meldonian/ 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, "Untitled." I recently discovered this Tripodfish, Bathypterois grallator, a larval fish during a "black water" scuba diving expedition to document vertical migration marine creatures. This is done in the South Atlantic Ocean, Gulfstream current, The tripodfish or tripod spiderfish, Bathypterois grallator, is a deep-sea benthic fish, known mostly from photographs from submersibles. This fish comes up from the depths of 2,400 feet to 15,000 feet during a vertical migration occurring in the ocean.


Photo and Caption by Barbara Fleming/ 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, “Cape Buffalo with Yellow-Billed Oxpecker.” I had been wanting to get this image for at least two years and just recently, on my last safari in November, was able to successfully capture it. Many aspects came into play for my reward. Light was key. Side-light, lighting the Oxpecker and keeping the Buffalo in the shade was crucial. I wanted a darker pallet for this image, and think I got it. I captured both subjects in focus, very difficult to do as both were moving and in different focal planes.


Photo and Caption by Samira Qadir/ 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, "Moving at a snail's pace…" While enjoying the sights of Chicago's Garfield Conservatory found this unlikely traveler taking a closer look at this Bromeliad. Sometimes you have to slow down to appreciate the tiny wonders right in front of you!

Photo and Caption by Stefano Spezi/ 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, "Mediterranean Jelly." Cotylorhiza Tuberculata, aka Mediterranean Jelly or (more friendly…) Fried Egg Jelly, is pretty common throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Its stings are totally harmless to humans, yet its beauty is absolutely contagious.


Photo and Caption by Peter Mather/ 2016 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, “Salmon Claws.” A grizzly bear sow and cub use a fallen log to fish for chinook salmon on a small creek in Yukon Canada. The long, sharp claws of grizzly bears are perfect for filleting salmon. Image taken by a remote camera trap


Technically, animal portraits are just one category in the NatGeo competition. The judges are also on the lookout for stunning landscapes, action shots, and unique perspectives on environmental issues, and the grand prize is a 10-day trip for two to the Galápagos with National Geographic Expeditions, plus two 15-minute image portfolio reviews with NatGeo photo editors. Feeling compelled to enter pictures from your own globe-trotting adventures? Click here to submit your work to the National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Contest before November 4.


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