10 Best Photos of Nature : 2008
10. “Uncontacted” Tribe Seen in Amazon
Shown in National Geographic News’s tenth most viewed individual photo of 2008, members of an “uncontacted” Amazon tribe fire arrows at an airplane above the rain forest borderlands of Peru and Brazil in May. The natural dyes covering their bodies probably signal aggression, native-rights experts say.
Later it was revealed that, though this tribe apparently is truly uncontacted, authorities have known about it for decades.
9. Venus, Jupiter, Moon Smile on Earth
The heavens smiled down on Earth on December 1 in a rare celestial trifecta of Venus, Jupiter, and the moon (shown here over Manila in the Philippines).
People in Asia saw a smiley face while sky-watchers in the United States saw a frown, though we’re sure it was nothing personal.
8. Colossal Squid Revealed in First In-Depth Look
The carcass of a colossal squid floats in a tank at the Museum of New Zealand on April 30, giving scientists their first close look at the elusive deep-sea creature.
The squid was frozen for months after being caught by fishers off Antarctica in 2007. A dissection of the thawed beast yielded astonishing discoveries, including the animal kingdom’s largest eyes and light-emitting organs that may serve as cloaking devices, scientists said.
7. Hurricane Ike Pummels Houston
On September 13 a worker inspects damage in front of the JPMorgan Chase Tower in downtown Houston, Texas, after powerful Hurricane Ike slammed into the Gulf Coast, damaging buildings, flooding streets, and knocking out power for millions of people.
With winds reaching 110 miles (177 kilometers) an hour, Ike came ashore above Galveston, Texas, as a strong Category 2 storm just after 3 a.m. ET.
6. Giant Stingrays Found Near Thai City
Recreational fishers and biologist Zeb Hogan (wearing cap) hold a live, 14-foot-long (4.3-meter-long) giant freshwater stingray the fishers caught in Thailand’s Bang Pakong River on March 31. The species can reportedly grow to 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms), which would make them the largest freshwater fish in the world, Hogan said.
After weeks of combing remote Southeast Asian rivers for giant freshwater stingrays, Hogan finally found the creature near the city of Chachoengsao. To his surprise, she gave birth soon after capture.
5. Alien-like Squid Seen at Deep Drilling Site
A mile and a half (two and a half kilometers) underwater, this alien-like, long-armed, and–strangest of all–“elbowed” Magnapinna squid is seen in a still from a video clip obtained by National Geographic News and published on November 24.
The video–obtained by a Shell oil company ROV (remotely operated vehicle) at an ultra-deep oil- and gas-drilling site–sparked shocked reactions everywhere from the Digg link-sharing site to CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360
4. “Snowstorm Leopard” Is Big Winner
Stalking India’s Hemis National Park, an extremely rare snow leopard lives up to its name in U.S. photographer Steve Winter’s award-winning National Geographic magazine image.
On October 30, 2008, “Snowstorm Leopard” was named best overall photo in the 2008 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, organized by the Natural History Museum of London and BBC Wildlife Magazine.
“This is the hardest story I have ever done because of the altitude and the steepness of the mountains,” the U.S. photographer told National Geographic. “At night it was 30 below zero [Fahrenheit].”
3. Giant Starfish Among Strange Animals Found off Antarctica
Giant sea stars, or starfish, that measure 24 inches (60 centimeters) across are held by Sadie Mills, left, and Niki Davey of New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research on February 15.
They and other researchers collected 30,000 sea creatures–many new to science–during a 35-day census in Antarctic waters in February and March.
2. Lizard-Snake Deadlock Steals the Show
An aptly named winner of the 2008 Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest, “Deadlock” was captured in the dead of night in a Belizean rain forest.
U.K.-based David Maitland observed from midnight to 3 a.m. as a rare Morelet’s tree frog doggedly refused to become supper for a cat-eyed snake–and still didn’t see the conclusion. “I was exhausted,” the photographer said.
The image may have lost out to a snow leopard photo for the contest’s top honors, but “Deadlock”–the second most viewed photo posted on National Geographic News in 2008–appears to be the people’s choice.
1. Chile Volcano Erupts With Ash and Lightning
Captured in National Geographic News’s most viewed individual photo of 2008, Chile’s Chaiten volcano erupts on May 3 after 9,000 years of silence.
The blast may have generated a “dirty thunderstorm.” These little-understood storms may be caused when rock fragments, ash, and ice particles collide to produce static charges–just as ice particles collide to create charges in regular thunderstorms.
The eruption, which continued off and on for months, forced the evacuation of thousands of residents and cattle from this corner of Patagonia.