Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A collection of great images of 2009 from National Geographic

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Zambia—A lone bull elephant breakfasts at first light near the precipice of Victoria Falls. With the Zambezi River near its seasonal ebb, once submerged walkways—and fresh foraging possibilities—present themselves.


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China—Workers apply a rust-resistant primer to a coal-fired power plant in Huaibei, a major industrial center. Soon they'll paint it black, adding a second, waterproof coat to this 470-foot-tall cooling tower.


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Bulgaria—Epiphany Day at an icy Sofia lake finds young men in hot pursuit. Belief holds that the first to reach the wooden cross, thrown by an Eastern Orthodox priest, will enjoy a year of good health.


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Indonesia—On the first day of Ramadan, in a mosque filled with white-robed women, one child stands up and stands out. During the month-long holiday, Muslims seeking spiritual purification fast from dawn till dusk.


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United States—Limned by Hurricane Ike, an abstract expressionist expanse of oil-sheened floodwater surrounds a pump jack—a mechanical device used to extract oil—near High Island, Texas.


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England—Like a porcelain figurine carved into repose, the fetus of a foal floats in a jar. The 85-day-old, 5.5-inch-long colt was removed postmortem and preserved in formaldehyde after its mother, a Thoroughbred, died.


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Madagascar—Sunrise reveals light traffic—a lone oxcart—along the Avenue of the Baobabs. The 80-foot-tall "upside-down trees" in the Menabe region could become the island country's first national monument.


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Djibouti—A break in training exercises lets Marine Cpl. Brett Herman try out his break-dancing moves during a "freestyle" contest at Camp Lemonier. The former French barracks is the sole U.S. base on the Horn of Africa.


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Thailand—In a race to emerge at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo, one eight-inch Siamese crocodile wins by a head. Few such crocs exist in the wild, yet 20,000 are born each year during the zoo's May-to-August hatching festival.


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United Arab Emirates—Peninsulas of prosperity, the "fronds" of the $14-billion Palm Jumeirah—the first of three planned resort islands in Dubai—jut into the Persian Gulf. Building began in 2001; it may end in 2013.


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Indonesia—See dusk in the Dampier Strait through a half-submerged lens and glimpse two distinct worlds. Under a cloud-slung sky, fishermen work on wooden boats. Beneath a mirror-calm surface, waters flash with baitfish.


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China—All is alabaster at a sculpture factory in Dangcheng, where marble and chalk dust suffuse the air and workers churn out relatively inexpensive copies of iconic Western works for foreign and domestic clients.


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South Georgia Island—A snowy morning offers a peaceful study in contrasts as southern elephant seals and king penguins share a rookery. Antarctic spring brings some 400,000 of each species to this remote British territory.


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Belarus—Naked on an 18°F day, Valentsin Tolkachev clears an icy canal for swimming. The 69-year-old started the Optimalists—a Minsk-based club with 200-some members—in 1989 to promote hale activities in rural settings.


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United States—The shuttle Endeavour—deft in orbit but incapable of terrestrial flight—catches a post-mission piggyback on a 747, soaring over California's Mojave Desert en route to Florida's Kennedy Space Center.


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United States—A brown tornado towers perhaps 4,000 feet above the parched plains of Kansas. In 2007 the state set a U.S. record, tallying 141 twisters. The mark was short-lived, though: 187 tore through in 2008.


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India—In Jammu, a flower of flame blooms from a man's kerosene-filled mouth. Devotees of Sikhism, the world's fifth largest organized religion, were marking the 342nd birthday of Guru Gobind Singh, a founder of the faith.


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Tonga—Plumes of ash, smoke, and steam billow thousands of feet into the air as an undersea volcano erupts on the uninhabited island of Hunga Ha'apai. The fallout, rock detritus known as scoria, has since enlarged the landmass.


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Mexico—Thirteen feet and a thousand-plus pounds of great white shark bump a diver's cage and roil the waters off Guadalupe Island. The region, rich in seal and sea lion rookeries, is a hot spot for the powerful predators.


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Greenland—Eight hundred miles south of the North Pole, a cavern of stalactite-like stratus clouds—churned by 90-mile-an-hour winds—and the light of a bruised dawn paint an apocalyptic portrait over Inglefield Bay.


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England—Lost in a wending laurel maze at Cornwall's Glendurgan—a series of verdant subtropical gardens planted privately in the 1820s and bequeathed to the National Trust in 1962—two visitors huddle in a hut.

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