National Geographic announced the winners, honorable mentions and runner ups for its , and each one highlights a beautiful and remote section of our world or the living things who inhabit it.
This photo, called "Mermaid," won the contest's grand prize: ,000.
Taken by photographer Reiko Takahashi near Japan’s Kumejima Island, it's a truly stirring image of a humpback whale calf's rear end. Here's what the photographer said about the experience:
At one point, the calf began jumping and tapping its tail on the water near us — it was very friendly and curious. Finally, the mother, who was watching nearby, came to pick up the calf and swim away. I fell in love completely with the calf and it’s very energetic, large, and beautiful tail.
That's not all though — the runner up images are nearly as good as the Grand Prize winner. Scroll down to see some of our favorites and head to National Geographic's website to see the rest.
"Alone In the Crowds" was taken by photographer Gary Cummins in Hong Kong, and earned an honorable mention in the "cities" category.
Believe it or not, Marco Grassi's "Mars" wasn't actually captured on Mars, but instead Northern Italy. It took third place in the "nature" category.
This collection of crocodiles (which is !) was photographed by Niklas Weber in Brazil, and took home the top People's Choice prize for "nature."
Photographer Enrico Pescantini took this stunner of an overheard shot of Teotihuacan in Mexico. It took second place in "cities."
This magic shot feels like something out of "The Legend of Zelda" or "Lord of the Rings," but is actually simple a photo taken by E. Arencibia in Iceland.
"Ipanema Beach," taken in Brazil by M. Raccichini, feels like a particularly special image as the World Cup plays out across in the world Russia.
Finally, a photo we don't even want to talk about because we'd much prefer to look at it: "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time," by Daniel Cheung. Taken in Shenzhen, China, it earned the People's Choice award for the "people" category.
See more photos from the contest at National Geographic's website.