National Geographic published the most vivid pictures of 2015. The photos were taken by professionals and were not judged by competent jury but a selected audience –
National Geographic visitors. The top includes images that have had the most views and comments in social networks.
Each day, we bring you one photo from around National Geographic that fits our criteria for Photo of the Day—sometimes classic, sometimes quirky, always an image with a story to tell. For this year’s roundup, we looked at shares, likes, and comments from the social sphere to see which ones resonated most with you.
What’s your favorite? Check out the photo gallery below for details on each and every photo. If you have questions about any of the locations in the photos, please drop us a message.
Abderazak Tissoukai was near Xingping in China’s Guanxi region when he captured this picture of a cormorant fisherman at sunset. “Xingping is definitely one the most beautiful places in China, with its scenic karst landscapes [and] traditional and genuine people,” he writes. Curious to learn more about the local practice of cormorant fishing—in which trained birds with snared throats capture fish they’re unable to swallow—Tissoukai took a high-speed train from Zhuhai to Xingping to shoot fishermen on the Li River. “I wanted a complete, iconic definition of cormorant fishing,” he writes. “Who was knocking on my door?” This is what Your Shot member Cezary Wyszynski imagines this mouse thinking as it pokes its head from a hole. A possible culprit? Wyszynski wryly hints at the departing rat that’s slightly visible in the background. Jeff Hester was drawn to make this image because, he says, “I believe this is what our oceans should look like.” But Cabo Pulmo, a marine park off Mexico’s Baja California peninsula, hasn’t always been this way. “In 1995, [the] park was established by local citizens to counteract depleted reef fishes and marine life due to overfishing,” he says. “Today, the biomass is booming, and the ecosystem is returning to a healthy state. For this particular image, I wanted to show some scale … so I had my wife, seen in the foreground, swim ahead of me.” Researcher Ian McAllister used an underwater housing to get this intimate portrait of a wolf wading through the intertidal zone on the British Columbia coast in Canada. This wolf took a break from eating herring roe to investigate the photographer’s half-submerged camera. While walking along the shore of Larak, Iran—an island in the Persian Gulf—Your Shot member Pooyan Shadpoor came across the luminous scene in the photo above. The “magical lights of [the] plankton … enchanted me so that I snapped the shot,” he writes. A young humpback whale eyes Your Shot member Karim Iliya, who spotted the calf and its mother while diving in the waters off Tonga. “I could not help but wave and smile at the newborn whale almost three times my length,” Iliya writes. “Its curiosity got the better of it and emerging from under its mother’s fin, it swam toward me, approaching less than 30 centimeters [11 inches] from my face.” “Ice on Lake Baikal is a very interesting phenomenon,” writes Alexey Trofimov. “Ice ridges, cracks, tears, hugging. All this creates unique and fantastic stories.” Trofimov spends a few months a year photographing landscapes at the lake—the world’s deepest and oldest—in southeastern Siberia. On this trip, he hoped to make an unusual picture of the ice, showing elements not normally visible. When one morning brought a strong frost and wind, which created unusual patterns in the cracks, Trofimov “had only to wait for sunrise to make this picture.” “This little lake is a part of my life,” writes Your Shot member Gabor Dvornik, who lives half a mile from its location on a natural reserve in Sződliget, Hungary. “I shoot here nearly every month, sometimes every week. It has a very special air in every season, but to have a nice, misty day is rare, as wind is always present due to the nearby Duna River.” Seeing the fog during a last glance outside the night before, Dvornik slept only three hours to make it to the lake for a “dream” shoot. “It was utterly ghostly and very moody out there,” he writes. “I felt like I was in a fantasy tale, in an enchanted land. I was so euphoric that I made around 500 captures and walked around the lake two to three times.” The aurora borealis shares the sky with a bright moon in Iceland. Named for the Roman goddess of dawn, the vivid beams of light result from collisions between charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere and gaseous particles in Earth’s atmosphere. “These baobab trees on Madagascar are up to 800 years old,” writes Your Shot member Marsel van Oosten. Locally known as “mother of the forest,” the baobab forms a micro-ecosystem of its own, supporting life for both animals and humans, van Oosten says. “Old hollow baobabs are a home to snakes, bats, bush babies, bees, and sometimes even humans. More importantly, the tree is an important source of water—it can store up to 4,000 liters of water in its trunk. For Africa, it is literally the tree of life.” Once a royal hunting retreat, Gran Paradiso National Park preserves a wild side of Italy. Here, a red fox lies in wait, camouflaged in the autumn woods. Like all foxes, those in Gran Paradiso are adaptable opportunists; they’ll catch fish, hunt rabbits, or scavenge picnic scraps. A diver gazes at the Hilma Hooker, a cargo ship purposely sunk off the Caribbean island of Bonaire. The site is a popular destination for scuba divers. The residents of Jellyfish Lake on Eil Malk—one of the Rock Islands of Palau—surround a snorkeler in their midst. The saltwater lake’s golden jellyfish, harmless to humans, spend much of their lives following the sun as it makes its daily progress across the sky. For these jellies, sunlight is essential: It nourishes the algae-like organisms that live symbiotically in their tissues. Clinton Berry captured this photo with a GoPro on Antarctica’s sea ice, about six miles from Casey Station. “I studied the movements of the penguins for weeks,” Berry writes. “They walked in the same area almost every day. We would get maybe a dozen or less going by. The day this was taken there were over 60 penguins. It was a bit of luck involved too.” Dispersing fog and a moment of sunshine bring the falls and foliage of Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park into view on an early autumn morning. The country’s oldest and largest national park, Plitvice boasts more than plunging waterfalls: Its 16 terraced lakes, formed by natural travertine dams, change color throughout the day, and its abundant wildlife includes 261 species of birds. The setting sun shines through the ice on the shore of a frozen Lake Superior, traversed by Your Shot member Ernie Vater to reach this spot. “Part of the beauty of this place is the silence of it,” he writes of the ice caves at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore near Bayfield, Wisconsin. “You hear nothing except the occasional creaking of the ice (which can make you jump if it’s right under you). There were a few times when I just stopped and enjoyed the quiet. In this spot the only sounds were the water drops splashing.” A snowy owl appears to fight against the elements during extreme weather conditions near Quebec City, Canada. “I knew that many snowy owls were in the area,” writes Your Shot member Dominic Roy, “but it’s not always easy to find them.”