An incredible image of a humpback whale’s tale has won the top award at the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest. Reiko Takahashi captured the image of the whale off of Japan’s Kumejima island.

“I was fortunate to have encountered a humpback whale with her calf on my first day snorkeling near Japan’s Kumejima Island,” Takahashi tells “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.”

The contest received more than 13,000 entries in three categories, with Takahashi’s “Mermaind” picture taking top prize in the Nature category. The other categories were “Cities” and “People.” Check out the rest of the winning images here.

And if you’re inspired to win a contest for a good cause, make sure to enter the 2nd Think Pink Photo Competition. 



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