Ten Nat Geo Images That Look Incredibly Familiar … Here’s Why

You may have seen these images before. At the dentist’s office, in the lobby of a law firm, or while you sit on your friend’s couch trying to agree on which movie to watch. As well as being popular stock photos, they are featured in the default screen saver for Apple TV—a device that allows you to stream content to your television. I don’t own one myself, but they are becoming increasingly common, and with them, so is this collection of stunning National Geographic images.

I wanted to share some tidbits about these photos, so you can impress your friends the next time you’re arguing over rom-com or sci-fi. And even if you’ve never seen this screen saver, you’ll still appreciate the photos. Here is a selection of ten of the featured images (there are 26 total), including links to the original National Geographic magazine stories they appeared in.

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“Over thousands of years winds have sculpted sand in the Namib Desert into some of the world’s tallest dunes, colored red by iron oxide. The sand contains just enough moisture to sustain a few hardy plants. Not far from this dune, one called Big Daddy looms 1,200 feet above the desert floor.”

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“Hunting for morsels of plankton, a school of spadefish hovers near the surface off Japan’s subtropical Bonin Islands. The turquoise color permeates the water late in the afternoon, as the red rays of the setting sun spread out and grow weak.”

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“Seen from the air, the dunes look like white linens hung out to dry on a windy afternoon. In fact, the name of this place, Lençóis Maranhenses, means the ‘bedsheets of Maranhão,’ the state in Brazil on the tropical northeastern coast where the half-moon-shaped dunes are found.” Here, “Ribbons of dunes trap the rains.”

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“Its image mirrored in the icy water of the Arctic Ocean, a polar bear travels submerged—a tactic often used to surprise prey. Scientists fear global warming could drive bears to extinction sometime this century.”

“Concerned that the bears may be headed for extinction, officials at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed listing the bears as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. ‘There’s a really clear relationship between polar bear conditions and retreating sea ice,’ says Rosa Meehan, division chief for the service’s Marine Mammal Management Program. ‘Bears depend on ice. And the ice is melting.’”

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“A thunder cloud passes over the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Salmon-Challis National Forest, Idaho.” The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, passed in 1968, protects 104 miles of this river.

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“The European bee-eater leads a colorful life on three continents.” Pictured here in Sarand, Hungary, “a hungry female bee-eater is not yet willing to mate. So the male bee-eater takes wing to find more food. When he returns, ‘the female nearly always accepts the offering, quickly eating,’ reports British ornithologist C. Hilary Fry. If his courtship is successful, he’ll continue to bring her prey through the egg-laying period. Both parents deliver meals to their chicks.”

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“Chinstrap penguins ride an eroded iceberg near Candlemas Island, part of the South Sandwich Islands chain,” in Antarctica.

“The South Sandwich Islands are nature’s solo act. Volcanic eruptions roughed out their shape; ice, wind, and waves still hammer and carve them. Birds and seals alone find refuge here.”

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“A grizzly bear opens wide for a mouth full of salmon,” in Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

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“This is the other China. High in the mountains of Sichuan Province, in Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, rare plants and animals find sanctuary, and millions of visitors have discovered cool, clear, sapphire-and-emerald-tinted waters, far removed from the sooty industrial sprawl that consumes lands and lives below.” Here, “mist rolls over Five Colored Lake at dawn.”

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“Needing fuel for his efforts, this silverback soaks in a swamp for hours, methodically stripping and rinsing dirt from herb roots before munching,” in the Congo Basin of central Africa.

Want to see more amazing photos taken by National Geographic photographers? National Geographic Creative licenses our photographers’ work around the world, creating more space for these images outside of the yellow border.

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