Here are 21 of the most amazing images captured by National Geographic this year

best national geographic photos 2015

National Geographic is known for its amazing photos taken from around the world. Photographers for the magazine capture stunning landscapes, people, and animals in nature.

While many people spring for a subscription every month, others simply follow the magazine’s Instagram account, where they can find some of the most amazing photographs.

While it’s hard to pick from the thousands and thousands of photos on their Instagram, here are our choices for the top 21 images captured by National Geographic for 2015.

Taken by Keith Ladzinski, this photo depicts the sun casting evening rays over the coast of Gorda, California.

Taken by Nick Cobbing, a research vessel in the Arctic ocean casts out light into the dark winter night. Cobbing lived on the ship for a few months while researchers studied the sea ice and its influence on the climate.

Robbie Stone captures the beauty of El Cenote in the Italian Dolomites. The vertical shaft opens up into a chamber at the bottom.

Two weeks ago, National Geographic uploaded this photo by Pedro McBride. This snapshot showcases the beauty of Antarctica.

In Papua New Guinea, this father and son were photographed by David Doubilet as they rowed over a coral garden.

This sea turtle was seen near the Abrolhos Reef in Brazil as it dove toward the bottom of the sea to search for sea grass.

Mattias Klum perfectly captured the relationship between an orphaned orangutan and its “babysitter.” The pair were taking a walk near the orangutan rehabilitation center Nyaru Menteng in Borneo.

In Sanjay Ghandi National Forest, Steve Winter captured two leopard cubs as they came to a watering hole to drink. The leopards live close to the city of Mumbai and are seen entering the city at night.

These mostly gentle giants are being poached toward extinction. The bull elephants captured in this photo by Pedro McBride were both poached by hunters after the snapshot was taken.

This amazing pool of water in Denali National Park is almost too beautiful to be real. Photographer Aaron Huey explained that, since the Ruth Glacier’s ice is so thick, this blue pool of water could go down over 2,000 feet to the ground.

Keith Ladzinski captured this coyote on the hunt in the meadows of Boulder, Colorado. Coyotes easily adapt to new areas, which is why they are the most widely distributed large predator in North America.

The Aurora Borealis is a sight to behold, especially in Canada, where the colors are seen most often. Jimmy Chin captured this photo over Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada.

Mattias Klum, like most of us, is fascinated with lions. When he had the chance to interact with them up close, he took this amazing shot.

Paul Nicklen spent hours at a set of falls in Alaska to capture the perfect moment. In this shot, a coastal brown bear is about to sink its teeth into a sockeye salmon. Nicklen took thousands of photos before this happened.

Sunrises and sunsets are always majestic, especially up in the mountains. In this photo, Michael Melford perfectly shows the sunrise over Lake Pukaki, New Zealand. Mt. Cook can be seen in the background.

This European bee-eater from the Budapest Zoo showcases its many colors in a photo taken by Joel Sartore. This species of bird can eat up to 250 bees per day.

Southern California is known for its beaches, which are home to thousands of surfers trying to catch that perfect wave. In this photo, Tyrone Turner captures a lone surfer walking along LaJolla Beach at sunset.

Icebergs really are the best metaphor for the sea, according to photographer David Doubilet. Only a small fraction of and iceberg is ever present above the surface of the water.

These climbers are braving insane conditions for a shot at climbing to the summit of Ama Dablam in eastern Nepal. Andy Bardon captured these climbers melting snow for drinking water at their camp 19,000 feet above sea level.

This sweet koala at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital attempts to grab onto Joel Sartore’s camera. While he doesn’t quite get a hold of it, the result is an adorable koala selfie.

Brian Skerry writes that this harp seal pup is only 17 days old. At this stage, the pups start to acclimate to the water by splashing around and beating the water with their fins.

Each of these photos perfectly captures the beauty of our world. We expect to see even more from National Geographic in the coming years.