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.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.