A California sea lion hunts for fish on a kelp paddy at Cortes Bank, a seamount off the coast of San Diego. It's a trove of marine life that deserves protection, conservationists say. (See 50 dramatic photos from Earth)
A California sea lion hunts for fish on a kelp paddy at Cortes Bank, a seamount off the coast of San Diego. It's a trove of marine life that deserves protection, conservationists say. (See 50 dramatic photos from Earth)
Photograph by Brian Skerry, Nat Geo Image Collection

50 dramatic photos of life on Earth

Scenes from around the world show life both beautiful and vulnerable to human influence.

Coral reefs, sprawling forests, and abundant wildlife enrich our Earth, but the number of species that inhabit this planet is declining. Climate change is making it too hot for many reefs to survive, once lush regions are being deforested, and wildlife is finding it increasingly difficult to coexist with people. To highlight these issues, the theme of 2019's Earth Day is “Protect Our Species.”

Earth Day's organizers aim to highlight how many species are facing extinction and what can be done to save them. By creating nature sanctuaries, both on land and below the sea, environmental activists are trying to create safe spaces in which wildlife can thrive.

The National Geographic Society, joining with other large conservation organizations, has called for 30 percent of the world to be protected in some way by 2030, to help safeguard a critical mass of the planet's species.

Swipe through the gallery above to see some of Earth's most stunning images.

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