See the best animal photos of 2018

Get up close to a shark feeding frenzy and meat-eating bats in these amazing pictures selected by National Geographic editors.

Dozens of reef sharks hunt for prey in the depths of the South Pacific, and two pumas stand atop a Chilean cliff. To capture these shots and others, National Geographic photographers climbed high and dove deep this year—sometimes without protection. It’s tough to get a spontaneous shot of a shark feeding frenzy from within a cage.

Even after more than 100 years of photographing the natural world for National Geographic, our wildlife photographers are still capturing animals in ways they’ve never been seen before. Evgenia Arbugaeva spent time in Indonesia, capturing vivid photographs of the dark side of the butterfly trade, and Anand Verma ventured into an ancient Maya temple to photograph meat-eating bats.

At night grey reef sharks hunt as a pack in the south channel of Fakarava Atoll, in the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia. Photographer Laurent Ballesta’s team, diving without cages or weapons, counted 700 sharks.

Some of our best wildlife photos this year were of birds. To mark the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which protected a huge swath of bird species from being killed, National Geographic declared 2018 the Year of the Bird and set out to tell stories about all things avian.

We focused on birds in peril, like the albatrosses of sub-Antarctic Marion Island, photographed bloody and half-alive by Thomas Peschak. Our photography also showed the birds that are flourishing against the odds, like the shearwaters and penguins sheltered on the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, captured by Paul Nicklen.

Charlie Hamilton James photographed birds at their smartest, quirkiest, and most cunning, like a Mozart-loving European starling named Arnie. He also celebrated snagging the most difficult shot of his entire career: a funny American bird called a sage grouse, which he finally captured one freezing-cold dawn as a vast Wyoming valley turned golden. “It took five weeks, a lot of coffee, and a pile of gear,” Hamilton James says.

Related Articles

Discuss this article


Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
We use our own and third-party cookies to improve our services, personalise your advertising and remember your preferences. If you continue browsing, or click on the accept button on this banner, we understand that you accept the use of cookies on our website. For more information visit our Cookies Policy AcceptClose cookie policy overlay