Exclusive: See stunning pics from the National Wildlife 2020 photo contest

Julia Thompson, USA TODAY
·2 min read

Photography can bring to light the furthest corners of the world even if travelers can't explore them on their own amid the coronavirus pandemic.

And the diversity of life across the globe is on full display in the National Wildlife Photo Contest put on by the National Wildlife Federation and its National Wildlife magazine. The federation, which calls itself America's largest conservation organization, today announced and shared photos from the winners of its 49th annual contest.

Alex Rose of Woodridge, Illinois, won the grand prize in the contest with a stunning photo of a swimming American crocodile with its mouth partially open and teeth displayed in front of a setting sun in Jardines de la Reina, an archipelago off Cuba's southern coast.

Rose was there to document sharks and promote their conservation and ended up photographing the crocodile from inches away. “These wild animals are so powerful and impressive,” Rose said in a statement, urging people to respect the animals rather than fear them.

First- and second-place awards were also announced in eight categories, including mammals, birds, baby animals, landscapes and plants, people in nature, other wildlife, youth and mobile. The winners in this year’s contest range from amateurs to professionals and are from four different nations – Canada, Greece, Namibia and the United States – and 11 U.S. states.

“Every photographer who enters our contest is someone we think of as a 'nature’s witness,’ using their passion for the natural world to create beautiful images that can inspire conservation,” said National Wildlife magazine editorial director and editor-in-chief Lisa Moore in a statement. “Whether they’re alone in the dark shooting the Milky Way or quietly strolling through a neighborhood to capture the beauty of a butterfly, they witness the majesty – and fragility – of nature and the world we’re all committed to protect.”

Next year's contest opens Jan. 13, 2021.

Last year: See the incredible National Wildlife Magazine 2019 photo contest winners

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: National Wildlife 2020 photo contest: See the winners' stunning pics