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2015 National Geographic Photo Contest Winners [PICS]

Photos via National Geographic

Take a look at these amazing photos taken from around the world landing these photographers a winning spot in the 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest. 

Image Via My Modern Met

Over 17,000 world-wide photos were entered into the 2015 National Geographic Photo Contest falling under the following categories: Travel Portraits, Outdoor Scenes, Sense of Place, Spontaneous Moments.

See the slideshow to view the grand prizewinner as well as second and third place and seven other well-deserving merits.

Photos via National Geographic

Winner: Whale Whisperers

Anuar Patjane Floriuk was the grand prizewinner of the National Geographic Photo Contest. He took this photo near Roca Partida, an island off the western coast of Mexico.

Floriuk says this photo wasn’t planned. He was taking photos near the head of the massive humpback whale and her calf when she started to swim toward the other divers. He snapped the photo when he thought the moment and the flow were just right.

Second Place: Gravel Workmen

Faisal Azim won second place with his photo taken of these three gravel workmen looking through the dusty, sandy window at their workplace in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

Third Place: Camel Ardah

Ahmed Al Toqi captured the essence of Camel Arda, a traditional style of camel racing in Oman. The fastest camel actually loses the race, so they all have to run at the same speed. This allows viewers to focus on the beauty and strength of the animals as well as the skill of the riders.

Merit: A Night at Deadvlei

Deadvlei means “dead march.” Beth McCarley took this photo of the, believed to be, 900-year-old trees. The trees have lived so long and have not decomposed because of the dry habitat.

Merit: Catching a Duck

Sarah Wouters captured these two boys trying to catch a duck at the stream of a waterfall in Nong Khai Province in Thailand landing her a merit badge in the National Geographic photo contest.

Merit: Kushti, Indian Wrestling

Kushti is the traditional form of Indian wrestling. Alain Schroeder caught this scene of Indian wrestlers at the end of their match.

The wresters lean against the wall at the end of the match and cover their bodies with the clay, usually mixed with salt, lemon, and clarified butter from the pit, to absorb any perspiration. The ritual ends with massages to sooth their sore muscles and to show respect toward one another.

Merit: White Rhinos

Stefane Berube spent a day trying to capture the perfect photograph of these majestic animals at the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in Uganda. After a day of unsuccessful attempts, Berube woke up the next day to find these three rhinos grazing right in front of him and took this photo.

Merit: Sauna in the Sky

Stefano Zardini took this photo of a sauna located 2,800 meters in the heart of the Dolomites in Monte Lagazoui, Cortina in the eastern Indian Alps.

Merit: Highlanders

This is a photograph of traditional haymakers in Poland taken by Bartłomiej Jurecki. The picture shows these haymakers still use a scythe and pitchfork to sort through the hay.

Merit: Romania, Land of the Fairy Tales

Eduard Gutescu captures the beautiful sight of white frost lightly covering Pastera Village in Romania.

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2015 National Geographic Photo Contest Winners [PICS]