2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winners
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2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year winners

Nature 1st Place – and Grand Prize winner
Photo and Caption by Reiko Takahashi / National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest | MERMAID

Reiko Takahashi's image of a humpback whale calf's tail has been named Grand Prize winner of this year's National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest. Her caption for the photo reads:

I was fortunate to have encountered a humpback whale with her calf on my first day snorkeling near Japan’s Kumejima Island. Most of the time, the calf stayed close to her mom. At one point, the calf began jumping and tapping its tail on the water near us—it was very friendly and curious. Finally, the mother, who was watching nearby, came to pick up the calf and swim away. I fell in love completely with the calf and it’s very energetic, large and beautiful tail.

Winners in three categories have also been chosen, from over 13,000 total entries. Takahashi's photo, titled Mermaid, also took first place in the Nature category – Cities and People round out the categories.

Take a look through the winning images above and see more outstanding photos from the weeks leading up to this announcement at National Geographic's website.