Check out some of National Geographic’s 2023 Pictures of the Year

From the ‘brains’ of NASA’s Europa Clipper to a lion’s mane jellyfish, the 29 images selected for the 2023 annual National Geographic Pictures of the Year issue commemorate extraordinary photographs taken all over the world. 

For the issue’s cover image, patience is the theme. National Geographic photographer Kiliii Yuyan took the photo of a banded sea krait when he was working on a story about Indigenous stewardship of the waters off of Palau. “I had to spend the entire time with that sea snake, just being there with it on its own terms to finally be there to make that image,” Yuyan tells PopSci.

The cover of National Geographic’s 2023 Pictures of the Year issue. (CREDIT: National Geographic/Kiliii Yuyan)

Yuyan was diving about 100 feet down when he saw the four foot long banded sea krait checking out nooks and crannies in the coral. The snake swam around Yuyan’s legs a bit to investigate and eventually went back to the coral to look for prey. Yuyan took several images of the sea krait during the first 45 minutes of the dive and had to constantly adjust his lights and buoyancy. It was not until the snake swam up to the surface to breathe that Yuyan was able to get the photo. “I followed it up partway into the sparkling rays of the sun,” says Yuyan. “It wasn’t until the very end that the background changed from the complex scene of coral to a minimal blue sea and the image became more powerful.”

Check out five more images included in this year’s issue below.

A technician studies the “brains” of NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft, which will launch next year. As it flies by Europa—one of the largest of Jupiter’s moons—the craft will study its ice shell and characterize the salty sea below. (CREDIT: National Geographic/Chris Gunn)
A technician studies the “brains” of NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft, which will launch next year. As it flies by Europa—one of the largest of Jupiter’s moons—the craft will study its ice shell and characterize the salty sea below. (CREDIT: National Geographic/Chris Gunn)
Caver Valentina Mariani (above), National Geographic Explorer Kenny Broad (center), and Nadir Quarta prepare for a dive into the dark, toxic waters of Lago Verde. Such sunlight-starved ecosystems could offer a glimpse into the chemistry of life in alien seas. (CREDIT: National Geographic/Carsten Peter)
Caver Valentina Mariani (above), National Geographic Explorer Kenny Broad (center), and Nadir Quarta prepare for a dive into the dark, toxic waters of Lago Verde. Such sunlight-starved ecosystems could offer a glimpse into the chemistry of life in alien seas. (CREDIT: National Geographic/Carsten Peter)
To better study how cells from one region of the brain connect with cells in others, Yale researchers looked for a way to reanimate recently dead brain tissue. The team succeeded with a pig’s brain by combining a custom drug cocktail (blue) with an oxygen carrier (dark red). (CREDIT: National Geographic/Max Aguilera-Hellweg)
To better study how cells from one region of the brain connect with cells in others, Yale researchers looked for a way to reanimate recently dead brain tissue. The team succeeded with a pig’s brain by combining a custom drug cocktail (blue) with an oxygen carrier (dark red). (CREDIT: National Geographic/Max Aguilera-Hellweg)
Marine biologist Alexander Semenov calls the lion’s mane jellyfish the queen of the Arctic seas. He photographed this regal specimen in its final stage of life: Having reproduced, it has shrunk in size, digested or shed its hundreds of long tentacles, and become, in Semenov’s words, an “alien flower.” (Credit: National Geographic/Alexander Semenov)
Marine biologist Alexander Semenov calls the lion’s mane jellyfish the queen of the Arctic seas. He photographed this regal specimen in its final stage of life: Having reproduced, it has shrunk in size, digested or shed its hundreds of long tentacles, and become, in Semenov’s words, an “alien flower.” (Credit: National Geographic/Alexander Semenov)
Streaked with sunlight and crowded together for warmth in winter, monarch butterflies blanket fir trees in El Rosario Sanctuary. Rojo received special permits to work outside the sanctuary’s operating hours. He made this photograph shortly before sunset. (CREDIT: National Geographic/Jaime Rojo)
Streaked with sunlight and crowded together for warmth in winter, monarch butterflies blanket fir trees in El Rosario Sanctuary. Rojo received special permits to work outside the sanctuary’s operating hours. He made this photograph shortly before sunset. (CREDIT: National Geographic/Jaime Rojo)

For more on this story, visit Natgeo.com.