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/ Source: TODAY
By Jordan Friedman

From among more than 17,000 entries, the winners of the 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest have been announced. These captivating photos will transport you to different destinations around the world, from Mexico to Bangladesh, and leave you in awe of majestic animals, beautiful landscapes and priceless moments.

The winning photograph of divers swimming near a humpback whale on the west coast of Mexico was taken underwater by Anuar Patjane Floriuk. He won the grand prize of an eight-day National Geographic Photo Expedition to Costa Rica and the Panama Canal for two for his photo titled "Whale Whisperer."

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Whale whisperers
Diving with a humpback whale and her new born calf while they cruise around Roca Partida Island, in Revillagigedo, Mexico. This is an outstanding and unique place full of pelagic life so we need to accelerate the incorporation of this islands into UNESCO as natural heritage site in order to increase the protection of the islands against the prevailing ilegal fishing corporations and big game fishing.Anuar Patjane / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

“The photo wasn’t planned,” Floriuk said in a National Geographic press release. “I was taking photos near the head of the whale, and all of a sudden she began to swim toward the rest of the diving team. The divers gave the whale and her calf space, and I just clicked at the moment when the flow and composition seemed right.”

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The second place winner, Faisal Azim, will receive a six-day National Geographic Photo Expedition: Winter Wildlife in Yellowstone for two for his photo "Gravel Workmen" taken in Bangladesh.

Gravel workmen
Gravel crush working place remains full of dust and sand. Three gravel workmen are looking through the window glass at their working place.Faisal Azim / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

And "Camel Ardah," a photo taken by Ahmed Al Toqi in Oman, won third place, with a prize of a six-day cruise for two.

Camel Ardah
Camel Ardah, as it called in Oman, is one of the traditional styles of camel racing ... between two camels controlled by expert men. The faster camel is the loser ... so they must be running [at] the same speed level in the same track. The main purpose of Ardah is to show the beauty and strength of the Arabian camels and the riders' skills. Ardah [is] considered one of the most risky situations, since always the camels reactions are unpredictable [and] it may get wild and jump [toward the] audience.Ahmed Al Toqi / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

There were also seven merit-prize winners who will receive the National Geographic Masters of Photography course on DVD and a $200 gift certificate to B&H Photo. Additionally, all of the winners are getting a subscription to National Geographic Traveler magazine.

White Rhinos

White Rhino's
The night before this photo, we tried all day to get a good photo of the endangered white rhino. Skulking through the grass carefully trying to stay 30 feet away to be safe, didn't provide me the photo I was hoping for. In the morning however, I woke up to all three rhinos grazing infront of me.Stefane Berube / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Catching a Duck

Catching a duck
Two boys are trying to catch a duck at the stream of the waterfall. Nong Khai Province, Thailand.Sarah Wouters / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

A Night at Deadvlei

A Night At Deadvlei
The night before returning to Windhoek, we spent several hours at Deadveli. The moon was bright enough to illuminate the sand dunes in the distance, but the skies were still dark enough to clearly see the milky way and magellanic clouds. Deadveli means "dead marsh." The camelthorn trees are believed to be about 900 years old, but have not decomposed because the environment is so dry.Beth McCarley / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Kushti, Indian Wrestling

Kushti, Indian wrestling
Kushti is the traditional form of Indian wrestling. Wearing only a well-adjusted loincloth (´†langot†ª), wrestlers or ´†Pelwhans†ª enter a pit made of clay, often mixed with salt, lemon and ghee (clarified butter). At the end of a workout, wrestlers rest against the walls of the arena covering their heads and bodies with earth to soak up any perspiration and avoid catching cold. This relaxation ceremony is completed with massages to soothe tired muscles and demonstrate mutual respect.Alain Schroeder / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Romania, Land of Fairy Tales

Romania - Land of Fairy Tales
Whitefrost over Pestera village.Eduard Gutescu / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Highlanders

Highlanders
Traditional haymaking in Poland. Many people continue to use the scythe and pitchfork to sort the hay.Bartlomiej Jurecki / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

Sauna in the Sky

Sauna in the sky
A sauna at 2,800 meters high in the heart of Dolomites. Monte Lagazuoi, Cortina, eastern Italian Alps.Stefano Zardini / National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest