13 stunning photos that might win the Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest is basically "Planet Earth" meets "Survivor."

For the past 52 years, the competition has introduced us to some of the most remarkable images of the natural world. This year was no different, attracting nearly 50,000 submissions from professional and amateur photographers from around the world.

On Sept. 12, the contest managed to narrow that astounding number of entries down to a handful of finalists, releasing just some of those finalists' incredible images to the public. From the intimidating glare of a bald eagle to tender moments between a mama bear and cub, each one of these images is a truly remarkable glimpse into life on Earth.


Check out the images from 13 of the finalists below.

1. "Swim gym" by Laurent Ballesta

A female Weddell seal introduces her pup to the wonders of their underwater world. While seal pups are born on the ice, by the time they're adults, they'll outclass even the best human divers. Photo by Laurent Ballesta/Wildlife Photographer of the Year, taken off the coast of eastern Antarctica.

2. "Arctic treasure" by Sergey Gorshkov

Caught red-handed with a stolen egg, this arctic fox isn't likely to give up its life of crime anytime soon. Arctic foxes can steal up to 40 eggs a day, burying them in the icy ground for future consumption. When the long, dark winter eventually arrives, these illicit stashes will be a lifeline for this fox and its kits. Photo by Sergey Gorshkov/Wildlife Photographer of the Year, taken on Wrangel Island, Russia.

3. "The power of the matriarch" by David Lloyd

Lloyd captured the image of this female African elephant in Kenya. Likely the matriarch of her herd, Lloyd says her gaze was full of "respect and intelligence — the essence of sentience." Photo by David Lloyd/Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

4. "Romance among the angels" by Andrey Narchuk

One day while diving in the Sea of Okhostk north of Japan, Narchuk found himself surrounded by courting sea angels (a type of marine mollusk that is related to snails). He managed to capture a handful of photographs before he had to surface. The next day, they had all disappeared. Photo by Andrey Narchuk/Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

5. "The insiders" by Qing Lin

You might think "insiders" refers to the clownfish, but if you look closely, you can see that each carries a small crustacean known as an isopod in its mouth. These strange creatures are parasites that consume and eventually replace the fish's tongue. Chilling. Photo by Qing Lin/Wildlife Photographer of the Year, taken in the Lembeh Strait in Indonesia.

6. "Sewage surfer" by Justin Hofman

Indonesia has some of the world's greatest marine biodiversity, but its waters are also plagued by plastic debris. Hofman spotted this tiny seahorse clinging to a cotton swab during a dive near Sumbawa Island. Photo by Justin Hofman/Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

7. "Bold eagle" by Klaus Nigge

Nigge lay on his belly as a rain-soaked bald eagle approached him. Glowering down at the photographer, the bird presented an intimate, and intimidating, portrait. Photo by Klaus Nigge/Wildlife Photographer of the Year, taken in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.

8. "Resplendent delivery" by Tyohar Kastiel

With an emerald tail streaming behind and ruby chest on display, a male quetzal returns to its nest with food for its two young chicks. Kastiel spent a week camped out in a small patch of the Costa Rican cloud forest to get this shot. Photo by Tyohar Kastiel/Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

9. "Winter pause" by Mats Andersson

Winter is a time of rest for many animals, but not this red squirrel. These animals spend the entire season scraping by on fallen spruce cones. Andersson captured this squirrel's portrait during its rare and brief moment of downtime near his home in southern Sweden. Photo by Mats Andersson/Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

10. "Saguaro twist" by Jack Dykinga

The Sonoran Desert can be a harsh, unrelenting environment for any living thing to grow in, but saguaro cacti find a way. With roots reaching deep underground for water, these incredible plants can live up to 200 years, their branches morphing and twisting into patterns as they age. Photo by Jack Dykinga/Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

11. "Bear hug" by Ashleigh Scully

With plentiful grasses, salmon, and clams, Alaska's Lake Clark National Park is a perfect summer home for brown bear families. "I fell in love with brown bears," Scully said. "This young cub seemed to think it was big enough to wrestle mum to the sand. As always, she played along, firm, but patient." Photo by Ashleigh Scully/Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

12. "Glimpse of a lynx" by Laura Albiac Vilas

Iberian lynx are some of Spain's most elusive wild animals. So when one appeared in the Sierra de Andújar National Park, Vilas couldn't help but snap a picture. "The animal's attitude surprised me. They weren't scared of people — they simply ignored us," Vilas said. "I felt so emotional to be so close to them." Photo by Laura Albiac Vilas/Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

13. "Saved but caged" by Steve Winter

A 6-month-old Sumatran tiger cub snarls at the camera, revealing its wild, ferocious heart. But this cub won't be returning to the wild. It was found and rescued from an illegal snare, and its back leg had been so damaged that it had to be amputated. This cub likely will spend the rest of its life in a Javan zoo. Photo by Steve Winter/Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Through these incredible photographs, the contest showcases the diverse, wild, beautiful, and ultimately fragile world we live in.

Update: The top winners of the contest were announced Oct. 17, 2017.

via Pixabay

Talking about politics at work can be a really touchy situation. It's good for people to be able to express themselves in the office. But it can lead to serious tension when people don't see eye-to-eye. It can be especially difficult when a company takes a hard line on a controversial issue that employees are forced to stand behind.

So Basecamp, a project management software company based in Chicago, has just decided to ban talking about politics at work altogether. It seems the company tried to foster an open atmosphere but it backfired.

"Sensitivities are at 11, and every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant," co-founder Jason Fried wrote in a post on the company website.

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via Pixabay

Talking about politics at work can be a really touchy situation. It's good for people to be able to express themselves in the office. But it can lead to serious tension when people don't see eye-to-eye. It can be especially difficult when a company takes a hard line on a controversial issue that employees are forced to stand behind.

So Basecamp, a project management software company based in Chicago, has just decided to ban talking about politics at work altogether. It seems the company tried to foster an open atmosphere but it backfired.

"Sensitivities are at 11, and every discussion remotely related to politics, advocacy, or society at large quickly spins away from pleasant," co-founder Jason Fried wrote in a post on the company website.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."