A photograph of a humpback whale calf’s tail has earned Reiko Takahashi of Japan the prestigious grand prize in the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest. Takahashi’s incredible photo was selected by a panel of National Geographic judges from more than 13,000 entries.
Takahashi took her grand prize-winning photo, titled Mermaid, off the coast of Japan’s Kumejima Island. The long-time photographer left her office job to pursue her passion for underwater photography and travelled to Kumejima Island on a mission to photograph humpback whales with their young calves.
"It was a special scene for me, to be able to take a photo of the calf, completely relaxed in gentle waters,” said Takahashi. "I really cannot believe it. It was my dream to win. I am honoured and it will be the driving force for my future shooting."
The National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest celebrates stunning pictures taken by all levels of photographers around the world. National Geographic is at the centre of a community filled with bold and curious people, including the talented photographers who submitted their best photos to the 2018 contest.
In addition to the grand prize winner, top photos were selected in each of the three categories. Takahashi’s photo was also chosen as the winner in the Nature category. Hiro Kurashina of Japan took top honours in the Cities category for his photo titled Another Rainy Day in Nagasaki, Kyushu, while Tea Culture by Alessandra Meniconzi of Switzerland won the People category.
All of the winning and honourable mention photos can be viewed at natgeo.com/travelphotocontest.