The 2017 finalists and winners of the BigPicture photography competition were just announced, and the chosen images are absolutely extraordinary.
They were chosen from nearly 6,000 entries sent in from around the world. The winning images are exhibited at the California Academy of the Sciences, one of the most prestigious science institutions on Earth, located in San Francisco California.
This image captioned 'The More the Merrier,' was captured by Alexandre Bonnefoy on Shōdoshima Island, Japan. The description reads: "When temperatures drop, macaques often huddle together to pool their body heat, forming what’s known as a saru dango, or “monkey dumpling.” This behavior is common among the 23 species of macaques, all of which form complex matriarchal societies. It is especially important for Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata), which live in colder climates than any other primate, aside from humans. On frigid days, their need for warmth clearly outweighs their desire for personal space."
'Synchronized Sleepers' by Franco Banfi was shot off the Caribbean island of Dominica.
"Photographer Franco Banfi and his fellow divers were following this pod of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) when the giants suddenly seemed to fall into a vertical slumber. This phenomenon was first studied in 2008, when a team of biologists from the UK and Japan inadvertently drifted into a group of non-responsive sperm whales floating just below the surface. Baffled by the behavior, the scientists analyzed data from tagged whales and discovered that these massive marine mammals spend about 7 percent of their time taking short (6- to 24-minute) rests in this shallow vertical position. Scientists think these brief naps may, in fact, be the only time the whales sleep."
'Snow Globe' by Denise Ippolito was the Winged Life Winner, captured at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico.
Jon Cornforth snapped 'Kamokuna Lava Firehose 25'in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and was the Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora Winner.
'The Salmon Catchers' was a Terrestrial Wildlife Finalist taken by Peter Mather at the Yukon River watershed in Canada.
'Ecosystem' by Marcio Cabral was the Terrestrial Wildlife Winner, captured in Emas National Park, Brazil.
If you think you can do better, you might want to get ready for next year's competition.
According to BigPicture's website, the "Natural World Photography Competition encourages photographers from around the world to contribute their work to this photo competition that will both celebrate and illustrate the rich diversity of life on Earth and inspire action to protect and conserve it through the power of imagery."