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National Geographic reveals 2023’s most stunning pictures of the year

Blink — but you still can’t miss them.

National Geographic has revealed the magazine’s pictures of the year, a collection of remarkable images that chronicle global culture, scientific breakthroughs, nature’s most intimate moments and more in an expansive, stunning showcase.

The 29 photos — selected from a whopping 2 million images by a pool of 165 photographers — are available for viewing in the magazine’s December 2023 issue.

Here are just five of the year’s most astounding moments caught on camera.

Swimming to new lengths

The 135-year-old magazine’s cover shows a deadly banded sea krait in a literal sea of blue, swimming up to the Pacific Ocean’s surface for a gulp of air. The creature is seen inside a Palau marine sanctuary, which protects a space larger than California with nearly 200,000 miles of water.

The National Geographic December issue featuring its “Pictures of the Year” is now available.
National Geographic

The sanctuary opened in 2015 and is the sixth-largest in the world. Although banded sea kraits – semiaquatic snakes of both the sea and land – carry one of the most lethal venoms in nature, they are considered remarkably docile and only infrequently have vicious interactions with humans, according to the Aquarium of the Pacific. Males can reach up to 50 inches in length. 

The pink dolphin lore of the Amazon

A longtime tradition for indigenous people of the Amazon involves the lore of pink dolphins.
Photo by Thomas Peschak

One captivating image shows indigenous Ticuna women in the Amazon wearing remarkable, pink dolphin costumes made from Yanchama tree bark.

It is a longstanding belief of the Ticuna that a pink dolphin is a charming man who goes to their festivals to get drunk and arouse the women, according to Vogue Italia.

Per the myth, the enchanted women would go with him to the river, where they would then turn into dolphins themselves.

Returning to the moon

Astronaut Zena Cardman trains with an 80-pound suit to prepare for lunar gravity.
Photo by Dan Winters

For the first time since 1972, the United States is going back to the moon to further astronauts’ capabilities for deep-space exploration.

NASA astronauts including Zena Cardman (above) are already training for these Artemis missions, which are named for the twin sister of the Greek god Apollo. In the image, Cardman is seen doing a high-fidelity test on Earth wearing an 80-pound training suit to anticipate gravitational changes on the lunar surface.

The grander goal of the journey is to create a lunar outpost called the Gateway as an orbital base.

Lab diamonds promise a new forever

A New York company has made lab-grown diamonds with common carbon dioxide.
Photo by Davide Monteleone

A New York-based startup company called Aether managed to convert carbon dioxide from our air into lab-grown diamonds, and a dazzling, 2-carat princess cut is revealed in an image from the magazine.

Lab-grown diamonds have become increasingly popular compared to those mined as more and more couples are saying “I do” to the more cost-efficient scientific breakthrough.

“I think that it will be not far into the future that lab-grown diamonds will likely outsell natural diamonds at the engagement market three to one,” Lindsay Reinsmith, the founder and chief operating officer of Ada Diamonds previously told The Post.

Pig organs to save human lives

Yale researchers successfully reanimated dead tissue in a pig’s brain.
Photo by Max Aguilera – Hellweg

Yale researchers are seen successfully reanimating dead brain tissue from a pig by combining it with a bevy of drugs and oxygen in this mysterious picture.

In medical science, the exploration of pig body parts for xenotransplants in humans has made tremendous strides in recent months.

An NYU Langone patient survived two months this year after receiving a pig’s kidney, and a Maryland man lived for six weeks with a pig heart transplant. Doctors attribute the organs’ temporary success to the ability to remove and add genes for them to better meld with the human body.

These breakthroughs come at a time when more than 103,000 people are waiting for organ donations in the US – with 17 of them dying each day.

Preparing for the worst

US and Finnish soldiers train north of the Arctic Circle amid global tensions.
Photo by Louie Palu

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February, soldiers are seen crawling on the snowy terrain while wearing skis as the United States and Finnish military commenced joint training operations north of the Arctic Circle.

Soldiers are seen crawling on the snowy terrain while wearing skis during an exercise that took place shortly before Finland – a nation that borders Russia –  joined NATO in April.

The war in Ukraine, along with Russia’s threats of detonating nuclear devices against the country, has experts greatly concerned about an outbreak of nuclear war.