Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. Albert Einstein
Best nature pictures of 2012
This is a compilation of images in which photographers have captured the beauty of our world, along with great moments among the living things we share this planet with. Most are from the reoccurring photo gallery The Natural World, in which photos of animals and our environment are selected from the many wire service photos moved throughout the year from all over the world. Many great photos of animals are taken in zoos, but this entry mostly shows creatures in their own habitat.
A lenticular cloud formed as high winds blew over the rugged Crazy Mountains in Montana. Lenticular clouds are stationary lens-shaped clouds that form at high altitudes.
Walker the polar bear (right) met with new male companion Arktos at the Highland Wildlife Park in Kingussie, Scotland. It is hoped that 4-year-old Arktos, and the year younger, slightly smaller Walker will establish a relationship of friendly competitiveness.
A giant panda sat in a tree at a breeding center in Dujiangyan, China. The giant panda is among six young giant pandas which were bred in captivity and were released as a group of "pioneers" into an enclosed forest in Sichuan province.
Seasonal winter storms lashed boats at anchor off Cape Town's Sea Point promenade. The Cape Peninsula has long been known as the "Cape of Storms" among sailors whose wrecked vessels have been scattered along the coastline at the southern tip of Africa for 400 years.
Elephants gathered during the night to drink at a watering hole in Tsavo East National Park, Kenya. Seeing a dire situation grow worse, the animal conservation group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) enlisted religious leaders in the fight to end the slaughter of Africa's elephants and rhinos by poachers, hoping that religion can help save some of the world's most majestic animals.
A penguin swam off Arpoador beach in Rio de Janeiro. Penguins arrive from the Antarctic Circle on ice floes that melt in the vicinity of Brazil's shore, and the birds wash up on Rio beaches every winter.
A tasselled wobbegong shark was seen lying on the substratum with the head of a brown-banded bamboo shark in its mouth during an underwater visual census of fishes on the fringing reef of Great Keppel Island on the Great Barrier Reef.
Surface melt water rushed along the surface of the Greenland Ice Sheet through a supra-glacial stream channel, southwest of Ilulissat. Polar ice sheets are now melting three times faster than in the 1990s, and that's added less than half an inch to already rising global sea levels, a new giant scientific study says. The acceleration of the melting, especially in Greenland, has ice scientists worried.
A whale shark swam beside a diver in the Galapagos Islands. Galapagos National Park, Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and the University of California - Davis, made satellite tagging of whale sharks in order to understand this species locally, regionally and globally in the migration process patterns.