Collection image

Nature's Best Photography 2012

Last updated about 3 years ago

Learn more about the species in the exhibition of winners from the 2012 Nature's Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards. Visit the online gallery at Nature's Best Photography.

  • 67056_88_88 Animalia > Ophidiiformes



    The cusk-eel family is a group of marine bony fishes found in temperate and tropical oceans throughout the world. They appear similar to eels but are not true eels. Most adult cusk-eels are measure under three feet. The larvae live relatively close to the surface, while many of the adults live close to the sea bottom at depths below 6,600 feet.

    Sort value: 01

  • 08614_88_88 Animalia > Cepheidae

    Cephea cephea

    Crown Jellyfish

    Not much is known about the biology or ecology of Cephea jellyfish.They are found in the Indo-West Pacific and the Eastern Central Atlantic Ocean. These jellyfish are often called “crown jellyfish” but that common name often leads to confusion since it is used for other, distantly related jellies.

    Sort value: 02

  • 88982_88_88 Animalia > Hexabranchidae

    Hexabranchus sanguineus

    Spanish Dancer

    The emperor shrimp is a omnivorous crustacean found across the Indo-West Pacific in depths between 3 feet and 130 feet. In this photo, it resides with one of the largest nudibranchs, the Spanish dancer. When the nudibranch swims, its red parapodia unfurl and are whirled through the water in a spectacular undulating motion, propelling the animal forward.

    Sort value: 03.1

  • 38808_88_88 Animalia > Palaemonidae

    Periclimenes imperator A. J. Bruce, 1967

    Emperor Shrimp

    The emperor shrimp is a omnivorous crustacean found across the Indo-West Pacific in depths between 3 feet and 130 feet. In this photo, it resides with one of the largest nudibranchs, the Spanish dancer. When the nudibranch swims, its red parapodia unfurl and are whirled through the water in a spectacular undulating motion, propelling the animal forward.

    Sort value: 03.2

  • 95033_88_88 Animalia > Scorpaenidae

    Pterois volitans

    Red Lionfish

    Lionfish are native to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean. They are now also found in the Caribbean and American Atlantic coast as an invasive species. Lionfish tend to glide along the rocks and coral during the night and hide out in caves and crevices during the day. The venom of the lionfish, delivered via an array of up to 18 needle-like dorsal fins, is purely defensive. It relies on camouflage and lightning-fast reflexes to capture its prey, mainly fish and shrimp.

    Sort value: 04

  • 00594_88_88 Animalia > Ursidae

    Ursus arctos

    Brown Bear

    Lake Clark in southern Alaska has a large population of brown bears. Females will den while they are pregnant. After a gestation period of 180 to 270 days, the mother gives birth while still hibernating, usually to a pair of cubs. The mother nurses her cubs until April or May, when the hibernation period ends. Newborns weigh about one pound and will nurse until spring; cubs stay with the mother for about two to four years. Brown bears, though omnivorous, are powerful predators. Interactions between bears seldom occur, but there is a social hierarchy. Adult males are most dominant. Females with cubs are dominant over juvenile males and females without cubs. The bears can express a range of emotions through a series of vocalizations such as grunts, moans, and growls.

    Sort value: 05

  • 33490_88_88 Animalia > Canidae

    Vulpes bengalensis

    Bengal Fox

    The medium-sized Indian fox has ears that are large for its body size; this is possibly an adaptation to their habitat as an aid to regulating heat. Native to the subcontinent of India, these foxes prefer foothills and non-forested regions, and arid as well as semi-desert environments. They livein burrows about two to three feet below the surface.

    Sort value: 06

  • 14392_88_88 Animalia > Pteropodidae

    Pteropus poliocephalus

    Gray-headed Flying Fox

    The gray-headed flying fox is one of the largest bats in Australia, with a recorded wingspan exceeding five feet. These flying mammals roost in large colonies of up to tens of thousands of individuals. At dusk they emerge and may travel as far as 30 miles to their feeding areas. As their name implies, the species’ face is fox-like. Despite popular belief, the flying fox has excellent vision and sense of smell.

    Sort value: 07

  • 07425_88_88 Animalia > Crocodylidae

    Alligator mississippiensis

    American Alligator

    American alligators prey on a variety of aquatic organisms including fish, crabs, snakes, turtles, mammals, birds, and even other alligators. Mainly inhabiting marshes and swamps, they can also be found in rivers, streams, lakes, and ponds on the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Florida, and in the Northern Gulf of Mexico west to Texas.

    Sort value: 10

  • 14050_88_88 Plantae > Fagaceae

    Fagus crenata

    Siebold's Beech

    Fagus crenata is a deciduous tree that can grow up to 114 feet tall. Native to woodland forests of Japan, the species is valued for its interesting form and silky, shiny foliage.

    Sort value: 13

  • 90209_88_88 Animalia > Acrididae

    Acrida cinerea

    Chinese Grasshopper

    Acrida is a genus that contains around 40 species of insects, found across Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia. Locusts and grasshoppers of this genus are omnivorous, and are naturally camouflaged by their coloration.

    Sort value: 14

  • 41090_88_88 Animalia > Cercopithecidae

    Macaca fuscata

    Japanese Macaque

    The Japanese macaque is sometimes known as the “snow monkey” because it lives in areas where snow covers the ground for a significant number of months each year. No primate, with the exception of humans, is more northern-living, nor lives in a colder climate.

    Sort value: 15

  • 66149_88_88 Animalia > Falconidae

    Caracara cheriway

    Northern Crested Caracara

    A bold, opportunistic raptor, the caracara is often seen walking around on the ground looking for food. It feeds mainly on carcasses, but will also steal food from other raptors, raid bird and turtle nests, and take live prey. Its diet includes insects and other invertebrates, fish, snakes, turtles, birds, and mammals.

    Sort value: 17

  • 28976_88_88 Animalia > Spheniscidae

    Aptenodytes forsteri

    Emperor Penguin

    Emperor penguins use a complex set of vocalizations that are critical in individual recognition between parents and offspring. Chicks use a frequency-modulated whistle to beg for food and to contact a parent. Physical displays are also used to communicate when moving through the colony, such as the appeasement posture, where the flippers are held out and the bill is raised.

    Sort value: 18

  • 82788_88_88 Animalia > Pelecanidae

    Pelecanus crispus

    Dalmatian Pelican

    The huge Dalmatian is one of the largest of the pelicans and one of the world’s heaviest flying bird species. It can measure up to six feet in length, averages about 25 pounds in weight, and has a 9.5- to 11.5-foot wingspan. Foraging close to roosting grounds, the pelican may feed alone or in groups, sweeping its bill underwater for fish.

    Sort value: 19

  • 62912_88_88 Animalia > Falconidae

    Falco tinnunculus

    Eurasian Kestrel

    Kestrels hunt by sight for small mammals and birds. They are able to remain still and hover while hunting even in strong winds. Upon spotting their quarry, they plunge to the ground, seizing their prey with their talons. Kestrels nest in tree holes, old buildings, or the abandoned nests of other birds.

    Sort value: 20

  • 03583_88_88 Animalia > Strigidae

    Athene cunicularia

    Burrowing Owl

    Unlike most owls, burrowing owls nest and live underground. They may dig their own holes or use those abandoned by mammals.. During the spring breeding season, they will forage during the day and night.

    Sort value: 21

  • 65317_88_88 Animalia > Presbytini Gray, 1825

    Trachypithecus poliocephalus

    White-headed Langur

    The white-headed langur is among the rarest primates in Asia. Females give birth every two or three years, usually to a single, golden-orange infant. The young are thought to stay with their mother's group for up to two years before leaving to find or start a group of their own.

    Sort value: 23

  • 91822_88_88 Animalia > Cercopithecidae

    Nasalis larvatus

    Proboscis Monkey

    Proboscis monkeys, found only in Borneo, live in coastal mangrove forests or in lowland rain forests close to freshwater rivers. These excellent swimmers have partially webbed feet that help distribute their weight when they walk on soft mud. They are primarily arboreal, but will venture onto land occasionally to search for food. Their diet consists of leaves, seeds, unripe fruits, and sometimes insects.

    Sort value: 24

  • 33357_88_88 Animalia > Cercopithecidae

    Pygathrix roxellana

    Golden-haired Monkey

    Golden snub-nosed monkeys are native to the mountainous forests of central and southwest China. They spend most of their time in trees feeding on leaves, seeds, lichen, and fruit. The species’ numbers are dwindling mainly because of habitat loss.

    Sort value: 26

  • 46343_88_88 Animalia > Felidae

    Panthera leo


    Females are the predominant caregivers to young lions. They nurse their own cubs and sometimes those of their relatives in the pride if litters are born close together. Weaned between 7 and 10 months, cubs depend upon adults until they are at least 16 months old. The lion is considered an ambush predator, one that lies in wait where prey is likely to appear. Inherently more patient than some other species, they are muscular enough to wrestle down powerful prey such as buffalo, especially when hunting as a group.

    Sort value: 27

  • 01206_88_88 Animalia > Homininae Gray, 1825

    Gorilla beringei

    Eastern Gorilla

    The largest of all primates, the endangered mountain gorilla surpasses others in size and strength. Males may weigh about 450 pounds while females usually weigh half as much. Primarily folivorous (leaf eaters), they eat frequently and spend hours foraging for vegetation each day. At night, the nomadic gorillas usually sleep on the ground, creating nests out of folded leaves and branches.

    Sort value: 28

  • 83599_88_88 Animalia > Felidae

    Acinonyx jubatus


    The fastest land mammal in the world, the cheetah can achieve speeds of up to 65 mph. Cheetah paws are less rounded and harder than most cats’, aiding their ability to make quick turns. Semi-retractable claws provide traction during running. Females typically have a litter of three or four cubs that will spend their first year learning and practicing hunting techniques through playful games.

    Sort value: 30

  • 02423_88_88 Animalia > Hippopotamidae

    Hippopotamus amphibius


    Despite its massive bulk, this amphibious mammal moves underwater with grace, and trots on land with surprising speed. The name hippopotamus means “river horse,” originating from the species' semi-aquatic lifestyle. Requiring water deep enough to cover their bodies, herds rest in rivers and lakes that are close to area where they can graze on land. They prefer gently-sloping, firm-bottomed river beds where calves can nurse without swimming and hippos can rest half-submerged to prevent their skin from overheating.

    Sort value: 31

  • 93377_88_88 Animalia > Elephantidae

    Loxodonta africana

    African Bush Elephant

    African elephants are the heaviest land mammals, with males weighing 10,000 to 13,000 pounds and having tusks that can weigh up to 100 pounds each. Both males and females use their tusks for digging and stripping bark off trees. Males also use their tusks for sparring. When two bulls of roughly equal size meet, they assess each other by intertwining trunks and may charge at each other with ears outstretched.

    Sort value: 32

  • 26998_88_88 Animalia > Accipitridae

    Gyps africanus

    White-backed Vulture

    The white-backed vulture, Africa’s most common large vulture, is highly social and can be found in flocks year-round. They are accomplished scavengers, and with their large, broad wings they can soar for hours in search for carrion. Excellent eyesight enables them to spot food from high in the air.

    Sort value: 33

  • 30501_88_88 Animalia > Bovidae

    Oryx gazella


    The Gemsbock or southern oryx is a large antelope well-adapted to the arid environments of Namibia. Its most distinctive features are rapier-shaped horns and striking black-and-white facial markings. The dominance hierarchy of these gregarious animals is based on age and size. Young animals assess one another in tests of strength, and, as they grow, evenly matched individuals may have to fight to establish their rank.

    Sort value: 34

  • 82640_88_88 Animalia > Giraffidae Gray, 1821

    Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi

    Masai Giraffe

    The Maasai giraffe is the largest subspecies of giraffe and the tallest land mammal on Earth, with males standing 16 to 20 feet tall. Giraffes use their 18-inch tongues to reach around thorns to grasp the leaves of acacia trees. These leaves contain water, so giraffes can go for long periods of time without having to drink.

    Sort value: 35

  • 79910_88_88 Animalia > Papionini

    Papio ursinus

    Chacma Baboon

    The Chacma baboon is a large, highly social monkey found near bodies of water throughout much of southern Africa.

    Sort value: 36.1

  • 08060_88_88 Animalia > Pieridae

    Eurema brigitta

    No Brand Grass Yellow

    The butterfly, Eurema brigitta, is abundant in the savanna and grasslands. Males of this butterfly “mud-puddle,” gathering in large groups to collect nutrients from small water sources.

    Sort value: 36.2

  • 68038_88_88 Animalia > Salticidae

    Saitis barbipes

    While the female jumping spider is a dull brown, the smaller male’s color is striking when viewed from the front. It is probably the most colorful species of jumping spider in Europe. The most impressive feature however, is their greatly enlarged third pair of legs used in courtship display. When a male spots a female, he raises and may audibly vibrate his legs to attract her.

    Sort value: 37

  • 32391_88_88 Animalia > Mantellidae

    Boophis viridis

    Green Bright-eyed Frog

    Widely distributed along the eastern rainforest belt of Madagascar, Boophis viridis live in old growth and secondary rainforests. The males call at night from perches in the vegetation three to six feet above the ground, usually along slow-moving streams and ditches.

    Sort value: 38

  • 65648_88_88 Animalia > Cercopithecidae

    Macaca nemestrina

    Sunda Pig-tailed Macaque

    The southern pig-tailed macaque is a medium-sized primate found in Southeast Asia from southern Thailand to the island of Borneo. Troops of macaques have been observed at the Kinabatangan River, the largest and longest river in the Malaysian state of Sabah in Borneo.

    Sort value: 39

  • 55547_88_88 Animalia > Homininae Gray, 1825

    Gorilla gorilla gorilla

    Western Lowland Gorilla

    The endangered western lowland gorilla is the smallest subspecies of gorillas. They may live in the wild in equatorial Africa to about 35 years of age, and as long as 50 years in zoos.

    Sort value: 40

  • 60189_88_88 Plantae > Fabaceae

    Acacia erioloba

    Camel Thorn

    Camel Thorn Trees

    Sort value: 46

  • 41768_88_88 Animalia > Cervinae Goldfuss, 1820

    Cervus elaphus canadensis


    One of the largest species of deer, an adult male elk weighs about 350 to 530 pounds. Only the stags have antlers, which start growing in the spring and are shed each year, usually at the end of winter. A soft covering known as velvet helps protect newly forming antlers in the spring.

    Sort value: 47

  • 39318_88_88 Animalia > Ramphastidae

    Ramphastos toco

    Common Toucan

    The Toco toucan is the largest of the toucan family. Its large bill is the main foraging tool that allows the bird to reach into tree holes and to grasp fruits from surrounding branches. Toucans carefully position food near the tip of their bills, then rapidly toss their heads back to throw the items into their throats without using their tongues. Their bills are also used to siphon body heat into the air to keep the toucan cool.

    Sort value: 48