21 Of The Best Nature Photo Entries To The 2014 National Geographic Photo Contest

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National Geographic has opened up their 2014 photo contest for submissions. Each year the most magnificent photos of nature and animals are highlighted by this competition, offering those trapped in suburbs and cities a chance to see the natural world in all new ways.

There are 3 categories you can apply for, People, Places, and Nature. The winers within each category will receive $2,500. One grand-prize winer (and the runner up from their category) scores a trip to Washington D.C. for the National Geographic photo seminar, along with $7,500.

As of now, the winners remain unknown, but here are 21 of the best submissions so far!

Photo: Hello

Location: Point Defiance Zoo, Tacoma, WA, USA 

Capturing photos of animals isn’t always this easy, but the gentle giant swam right up to the photographer and company, starring at them while wearing a cute ‘bubbly’ expression.

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Photo: Mom’s Love

Location: Jakarta 

Photographed by Cherly Jong, the caption for this photo reads, “The Mother Bird’s feeding time.”

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Photo: From the Sky 

Location: Tenerife Canary Islands 

Green turtles (chelonia mydas) are incredibly cute and affectionate, and there are plenty of them off the coast of Tenerife. Photographer, Montse Gilo, says of this photo, “I find myself devoting much time to these curious creatures. This turtle was coming from the surface with the sun behind it, and the sunrays surrounding it gave it a special majesty.”

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Photo: Destroyed Homs

Location: Homs, Syria 

Birds are the only life visible in this desolate, abandoned, and war torn region of Homs, which used to serve as the city center.

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Photo: The Lord of The Ocean

Location: Guadalupe Island, Mexico 

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Photo: Searching For Love 

Location: Brevard, North Carolina 

Blue Ghost Fireflies light up this picture, each one hoovers about one-foot off the ground, casting a unique glow.

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Photo: Walking on Water 

Location: Queensland, Australia 

After this photo shoot came to a close, Dave Kan saw a kangaroo come darting out of nowhere, bounding across the lake as if walking on water.

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Photo: Mexican Long Nosed Bat 

Location: Elephant Head in Southern Arizona 

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Photo: Bringing Home Breakfast 

Location: St. Petersburg, Florida, USA 

Sandy Scott, the photographer of this stunning image, has been watching this same beautiful osprey bird for a while. She fondly calls him Fleck, and has watched him build a nest in the same location for the last 4-years. When he scooped this fish out of the water with his talons, Scott was there to capture the whole thing on camera. Incredibly, he made direct eye contact with her during the process, before making a left turn and landing in his nest, where he shared his catch with his lucky mate.

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Photo: Kings Valley Clouds 

Location: Mansfield, Victoria, Australia 

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Photo: Physalia Physalis

Location: Shellharbour, NSW, Australia 

The bluebottle cnidaria has a poisonous sting, but is incredibly gorgeous.

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Photo: Mezmorized by Grace 

Location: Birmingham Zoo, Birmingham Alabama

Is that a fish or a bird? It’s a pretty pink flamingo cleaning between her brightly colored feathers.

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Photo: Warming Up 

Location: Sambas, West Kalimantan, Indonesia 

This adorable and unique looking creature is a flying lemur.

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Photo: Catch of the Decade 

Location: Kamai National Park, Alaska, USA 

Talk about perfect timing!

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Photo:Sunrise Plaosan Temple

Location:Yogyakarta, Indonesia 

While filming a TV commercial in Indonesia, Bill Stipp found an unexpected photo on location at this temple. As soon as the sun came up, the people came out to work in rice paddies.

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Photo: Sunward

Location: Nicosia, Cyprus 

The Mediterranean Mantis spread its arms and wings, almost as if dancing before the bright sun.

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Photo: Above Big Sur

Location: Big Sur, California 

Included in the “places” category of the competition, Douglas Croft worked hard to snap this image. Croft was visiting Big Sur in hopes of photographing the gray whales migrating from the advantageous cliffs. Unfortunately, the fog was too thick to photograph, let alone see, the waters below. Croft made lemons out of lemonade, and decided to hike up the Baronda Trail, above the fog. He says, “This view was my reward. Miles of lupine and blue skies. Outstanding!”

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Photo: The Wave

Location: Arizona, USA 

This is no easy destination to get to, but when the photographer of this photo traveled out to snap some images he discovered a man already there, alone and with only a beacon light for safety.

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Photo: A Tree Dreaming

Location: Strezlecki Desert Australia

In the middle of the hot and barren Australian desert, this small pool of water sits at the base of a tree, the only source of water for miles upon miles. These beautiful galahs flock here to get their fill of H2O, offering a rare picture of the natural world at work.

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Photo: The Iguana’s Cave

Location: Island of Bonaire, Kralendijk, Dutch Caribbean 

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Photo: Arctic Hi-Five 

Location: Svalbard 

This photo shows a male polar bear that was really hyped up having a good time with his sibling, while mom was just trying to have a peaceful waltz through the snow and ice.

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Who do you think has the best chance to win?

See 18 of the best wilderness photos from Smithsonian’s “Wilderness Forever” contest. 

Photo Credits: Colin MackenzieMisty GageAaron BaggenstosDouglas CroftCherly JongBill StippHasan BaglarChristian SpencerMontse GrilloTakashi NakagawaSandy ScottJoel SpoonerHendy MpMatthew SmithTylee ParvinLorenzo MittigaSergey PonomarevMarc HenauerDave KanJuan DeLeonSpencer Black