The cheetah is the fastest land animal, capable of reaching speeds up to 70 miles per hour. Unfortunately, this hunting adaptation requires enormous energy expenditure, leaving the cat exhausted and often vulnerable to having its prey stolen by other predators. This, along with the need to protect the young, keeps a mother constantly on the lookout. One morning photographer Eberhard Brunner spotted this female standing atop a termite mound, watching the horizon. Suddenly, she heard a pack of hyenas in the distance and hissed an alarm; the cubs scurried up to join their mother. As Brunner photographed, the family stood scanning the area before walking off in unhurried elegance.
On a day trip while snorkeling off Palm Beach, Fla., Eric Cheng captured this expressive shot of a juvenile loggerhead turtle. By refocusing the camera and placing it below the turtle, Cheng was able to record this comical expression as the excited loggerhead repeatedly charged the dome port of his camera housing, perhaps mistaking it for a jellyfish.
Edwin Giesbers is a frequent visitor to De Hoge Veluwe, the Netherlands largest national park, reveling in the beauty of the forest and the rich insect life found here. Exploring the woodlands on a warm summers evening, he spotted this lone caterpillar delicately balanced on the stem of a black alder leaf.
It was a July morning on the Serengeti Plain in Tanzania, and Anup Shah was staked out at a riverbank when the wildebeest herd came to drink. Straightaway a lurking crocodile swam underwater and positioned itself unseen right under the drinking wildebeests he recalls. After a long pause, the croc exploded from the water, its jaws narrowly missing a totally bewildered calf. I somehow managed to release the shutter at the crucial moment. The crocodile fell back in the river and the herd moved on.
In early autumn, Joanne Wells was exploring the ranks of Spanish moss-draped cypress trees scattered throughout this 412-acre lake. From a wooden boat landing she focused on this grove of trees, isolating this columnar formation. The green lichen, called Old Mans Beard, made a band across the bases and, as evening light covered the area, reflections on the water transformed the scene into a complex of patterns.
After waiting for hours in front of this snow drift, says Thorston Milse, I was surprised to see this great situation come together in one exciting moment; the light, the intimate exchange between mother and cub, and my camera position. In spite of having frozen fingers, I was very glad to still be able to push the shutter. Patience, endurance, and preparation delivered the photograph of a lifetime. As climate change continues to alter habitat, polar bears and other Arctic wildlife are being forced to modify their feeding and migratory patterns, placing many species at risk of becoming endangered, he says
The chimpanzee population of Gombe (a national park in Tanzania) has declined to less than 90 due to pressure from poaching, logging, habitat loss, and diseases, says Kristin Mosher, whose partner works for Dr. Jane Goodall researching chimpanzees. I had been following 'Goldi' when she eagerly ran toward a tree and climbed as high as she could. She was so preoccupied trying to catch handfuls of flying termites, that I was worried she might fall.
In 1995, the Soufriere Hills Volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat roared to life after slumbering for 350 years. Since awakening, the volcano has rendered two thirds of this tiny island uninhabitable, unleashing devastating pyroclastic flows that have destroyed everything in their path, including the capital of Plymouth. As with other types of nature photography, volcano photography requires patience, says Scott Ireland. You must be in place and ready to shoot when something happens. Someone once said that volcano photography 'comprises days of boredom, punctuated by seconds of terror.' I would say exhilaration!
The sand tiger shark is probably the most photographed shark after the great white, says Maris Kazmers. Despite their daunting appearance, it is a most docile shark in the daytime. Sand tigers are often surrounded by shimmering schools of baitfish, usually jacks or tuna seeking the shark’s protection. The shark assumes the 'big brother' role, discouraging predators.
Great blue heron males bring in sticks, twigs, and other bits of greenery for their nests, even after their young have hatched, Arthur Morris says of his photo in South Venice, Fla. This courting behavior has been photographed thousands of times at the Venice rookery. The way the female is looking up at the male with both eyes pointed right at the camera lens, makes it unusual.
Though more common in winter, this spectacular northern lights display revealed itself on a night in early September. Returning from a photography trip, Fritz Mueller was following the Stewart River in Canada's Yukon when the clear sky began to glow. He photographed the swirling exhibition, highlighting the reflections on the open water to create the feeling of being completely surrounded.
While photographing deep in the rain forest, Manoj Shah witnessed this juvenile gibbon hurrying to catch up with its mother. Anticipating its path and hoping it would come to this leafless tree, he prepared for the shot. As the youngster leaped from one branch to another, high above the forest floor, Shah captured it silhouetted against the sky.
As summer turns into fall, the tundra in Denali, Alaska, changes color and the wildlife becomes active in preparation for winter, says Michael Levy. This bull walked into Wonder Lake and joined three cows feeding on submerged vegetation. Slowly, the bull moved toward one of the cows, and the moose touched noses. As quickly as it happened, it was over.
The largest animal on Earth, the blue whale can reach lengths of more than 100 feet and weigh in excess of 300,000 pounds. Hunted almost to extinction by the early 1980s, only recently has this giant been seen again with any regularity. Sightings are still infrequent enough that Doc White was skeptical when told of blue whales just 19 miles from San Diego's coast. However, setting out on a friend's boat, they soon arrived in the midst of a feeding frenzy. There were huge patches of red krill, sharks, birds, and a dozen or more whales. Diving into the water in hopes of intercepting one of the whales, he plunged 30 feet and waited excitedly. Moments later, this individual emerged from a blanket of krill and headed straight towards him. He managed to get two shots in as it passed within 10 feet of him.
On an early morning drive through fog that was so dense it was difficult to see, I noticed these two male impalas knocking horns in a dominance fight, says Lisa Hoffner. Their battle continued for more than 20 minutes while the sun rose higher. I hoped they would stay while there was still adequate light to capture their grace and beauty in the knee-deep mist. Thankfully, as the sun broke through, they paused just long enough for me to shoot this image.
This was a situation where it might have been easy to become distracted. A troop of about 50 playful baboons moved into the area near my vehicle and decided to stay for several hours, says Stephen Maka. There was a flurry of activity going on all around me -- feeding, grooming, peck order displacement, posturing, sleeping, play fighting -- lots of social interaction of all types. It was well worth staying put and sitting quietly to witness this tender scene of a mother nursing her infant, a serene moment with no hint of the surrounding commotion.
This regal shoreline, with its wind-carved stone towers and imposing cliff face, was designated an Australian national park in 1964, and named the Twelve Apostles despite there being only nine limestone sea stacks. Jeremy Woodhouse visited Port Campbell hoping to capture the Apostles against a dramatic sunset. On his last evening there, he waited as an electrical storm blew in from the west. In dwindling light 30 minutes after sunset, he perched on a ridge watching the storm's advance and the interplay of light and color across the ocean landscape, and seized the moment. This long exposure rendered the crashing waves as a gentle mist and caught ribbons of lightning as they sliced the sky. On the morning of July 3, 2005, the 146-foot- tall sea stack in the foreground suddenly collapsed into the sea as a result of natural erosion processes, instantly changing the view of this dramatic stretch of Victoria's southwest coast of Australia forever.
At 2,789 feet in elevation, Japan's Jigokudani park is home to about 250 macaques, also known as snow monkeys. They are famous for frequenting the local natural hot springs during the harsh winters of this mountainous region. Yukihiro Fukuda photographed this pair of females huddled close together warming themselves in the thermal waters, with an infant nestled between them.
On an early morning outing during Tanzania's dry season, John Conrad was hoping to photograph a leopard when he came across these two giraffes. In 12 previous trips to Africa, he had never witnessed giraffes engaged in this behavior, known appropriately as necking. Although it may appear affectionate, this behavior is actually a means of determining dominance and mating rights between male giraffes. Swinging their long necks, they bash their heads and necks into the chest, ribs, legs, and necks of their rivals, sometimes causing serious injury.
Fritz Polking spent 10 days on Antarctica, camped out near a huge colony of penguins. I shot 400 rolls of film and this appealing frame, of doting parents, was one of the best, he says. The trick was to shoot on the periphery with a long lens to isolate the birds against a quiet background.
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