Today (22 April) is Earth Day. To celebrate this planet of ours, we take a look at some of the Instagram accounts that remind us, daily, that the world around us is worth protecting.
Earth Day was started in 1970 with the purpose of getting environmental protection onto the national political agenda in the US.
After that first Earth Day, which brought 20m Americans out to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment, the movement grew and, in 1990, Earth Day became a global affair.
As technology has improved, Earth Day’s potential for reaching larger numbers of people has grown. Today, at the time of writing, #EarthDay is the No 1 trending topic on Twitter.
But Twitter is far from the only social media site celebrating it this year, and Instagram is the perfect vehicle for showcasing the beauty of our natural world. Every day, it’s populated with stunning vistas, glorious sunsets and, of course, cat pics.
These accounts, though, are more stunning than most, dedicated to showcasing the best our planet has to offer, and focusing on celebrating the world in all its glory.
National Geographic (NatGeo)
National Geographic’s Instagram continues the work of the society, giving us glimpses of the world through the eyes of NatGeo’s award-winning photographers.
This account takes in everything. Not just endangered animals and beautiful scenery, but the far reaches of the world that many of us will never see.
Furthermore, it shows us, and how we interact with that world, reminding us how closely we’re tied to the things around us.
Photograph by @paulnicklen for #NatgeoEarthDay. Narwhals cross tusks as they scramble for a breath of air in the Canadian Arctic. They are feeding under the sea ice on polar cod. Every day needs to be #Earthday. All levels of all ecosystems are connected. What we do or fail to do as stewards of this great planet will determine our future. What do you think are some of the most effective things we can do to create change? #Followme on @paulnicklen to learn a lot more about all levels of polar ecosystems. @natgeo #climatechange #naturelovers @natgeopristineseas @natgeocreative
Photo by @davidalanharvey | Foam party Amnesia club in Ibiza, Spain. One of twenty of my photographs now hanging Paul Paletti Gallery in Louisville,Ky. I went a little crazy on this assignment for NatGeo staying on Ibiza for two weeks when I went thinking I'd stay only two days. I just got wrapped up in the scene. This foam party was only once per week so of course I needed to shoot it twice. It took some convincing for the managers to let me up into the ceiling area where all the lights were rigged. This was taken about 4am. The lights were constantly changing and I had only one frame that looked like this. Leica M6 and Kodachrome 200 film. #ibiza #kodachrome #foamparty #paulpalettigallery
Photo by @TimLaman. Alien of the deep. A 5 cm long sea-slug or Nudibranch I encountered diving the Raja Ampat Islands, Indonesia. Nudibranchs are basically a snail without a shell, and there are over 2000 species worldwide, and hundreds of different types in an amazing variety of colors on Indonesia’s coral reefs. The horn-like structures on this guys head are called rhinophores, and are the chemosensory organs that help them locate their food in the water. #Nudibranch, #IndonesiaBiodiversity, #WorldsRichestReefs, #Indonesia, #RajaAmpat, @thephotosociety, @natgeocreative. Celebrate Earth’s #Biodiversity. See more @TimLaman. #NatGeoEarthDay.
Photo by Corey Arnold @arni_coraldo It was the first time I can remember ever being stalked by a #muledeer After a sparring session with another young buck in the middle of the trail, this curious deer followed me and effectively stared me down until I felt unwelcome enough to leave. On assignment this past February in Zion National Park for @natgeo #findyourpark #zionnationalpark #zion #natgeo #wildlife #deer #buck #utah #photooftheday #instagram #photography #nature
photo by @randyolson | @thephotosociety The best way to document bird species in the jungle is to, well, listen. Brian O’Shea recorded bird songs during the expedition to identify the species we might not have been able to see. @natgeo @Conservationorg #Suriname #SouthAmerica #RAP #rainforest #forest #Jungle #Clouds #PalumeuRiver #documentary #everydaysouthamerica #everydayeverywhere #nowaternolife #Guyanashield
Photo by @paleyphoto (Matthieu Paley). According to the many Hindus who visit #Virupaksha temple in #Hampi, Laxmi the #elephant is a living incarnation of the god #Ganesha. After her daily morning wash, she showers a pilgrim coming to pay his respect. I am currently travelling in a camper van through #India with my family. @natgeocreative @thephotosociety @paleyography #morningshower #elephantblessing
@natgeo @stevewinterphoto #NatgeoEarthDay Everyday is Earth Day Read a new Nat Geo piece on the new tiger numbers by Sharon Guynup http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/04/160420-tigers-conservation-trafficking-world-wildlife-fund-panthera/ Earth Day on April 22 celebrates our planet and the life that it provides for all living things. Though we have humans often forget that without the vital necessities our planet gives us we would no longer survive. The air we breathe the water we drink is all here for us every moment of every day. Though we take it for granted as we do the natural systems which provide these life giving elements. The oceans and forests give us the air we breathe. 50% of our oxygen comes from forest – the other 50% from the oceans.Though we cut down the forests and pollute and remove the creatures which keep our seas in balance. 75% of our fresh water comes from forests and grasslands. forest which pull carbon from the atmosphere and slow climate change and give homes to the creatures which live within. Including some of my favorite animals big cats. Here are 2 tiger cubs drinking at a waterhole. Want to have your #EarthDay photo published on NatGeo.com? Add #NatgeoEarthDay to your images, then check NatGeo.com on Earth Day, April 22nd. #NatgeoEarthDay @natgeo @stevewinterphoto @thephotosociety @natgeocreative #bigcatsforever #ivoryfree #wildaid #bigcatsforever
World Wildlife Fund (world_wildlife)
As you might expect, the World Wildlife Fund posts a lot on Instagram about various initiatives and events they’re involved in, but that’s certainly worth wading through for the good stuff – the animals.
BREAKING: One of the last places on Earth where elephants, tigers and orangutans coexist in the wild has received long-term protection! Through an ambitious project model combining innovative financing approaches with traditional conservation, @World_Wildlife, Frankfurt Zoological Society and @TheOrangutanProject will join forces with local communities to actively manage the 100,000 acres of former logging forest, known as Thirty Hills, to protect rather than exploit the land’s natural resources. Saving this critical Sumatran forest could not have happened without WWF's partners and champions like the @LeonardoDiCaprio Foundation. Follow the link in our bio to learn more. #Save30Hills #WorldElephantDay
WWF's Bex Young recently visited Churchill, Canada and shared this photo with us. Known as the "polar bear capital of the world," Churchill is an ideal place to catch a glimpse of these beautiful bears. They gather in the area as they wait for the Hudson Bay to freeze over and hunting season to begin.
How much do you know about Javan rhinos? Ujung Kulon National Park sits on a peninsula in sight of the smoky haze from Krakatoa volcano; it is flat, swampy, and crisscrossed with natural canals. “It’s good habitat for Javan rhinos. The easiest way for humans to get around is by dugout canoe. That challenging habitat offers a measure of protection for the last wild population—about 60 individuals—of the critically endangered mammals. The good news is that despite how rare Javan rhinos are, we know what it takes to save them.” – WWF’s Dr. Barney Long. Learn more by following the link in our bio.
Kevin Richardson (lionwhisperersa)
Taking cat pics to a new zenith, Kevin Richardson – based in South Africa – has devoted his Instagram feed to creating awareness of the planet’s dwindling lion population.
According to Richardson, there are fewer than 18,000 lions still living wild in Africa. His feed shows us why it’s so important to reverse that decline.
While the majority of his posts feature lions, Richardson also occasionally posts photos of other big cats.
750k followers and counting! Thank you to you all!! Let’s make it a million and keep spreading awareness as to the plight of lions both in captivity and the wild! #SaveHabitat #SaveLions #bancannedlionhunting
A photo posted by Kevin Richardson LionWhisperer (@lionwhisperersa) on
This image and more will be on exhibition at the @fotofest_intl from 7 April in Houston Texas thanks to @garylankfordphotography. Very honored that my pride will be there and be seen by so many creating so much attention and awareness to the plight of lions in captivity and the wild. If you're in Texas go and check it out. #SaveLions #SaveHabitat photo by @garylankfordphotography
Amazingly a #blackleopard stands out better in this black & white picture. The 'black' condition is caused by the agouti gene which regulates the distribution of black pigment within the hair shaft. The condition is also referred to as 'melanism' & the 'black' colour we see is actually a dark brindle that appears black in certain light conditions. #SaveHabitat #saveleopards
Proving there’s far more to Australia than snakes, spiders and the wide variety of other animals that would kill you as soon as look at you, the Australia Instagram account showcases the breadth of the country’s beauty.
Yes, it’s a tourism account, but that scarcely matters when you’re treated to glorious images of the vast diversity on show, from wildlife, to the ocean, to the Outback – and not just Uluru.
The #12Apostles through the eyes of a @susiereynolds66's drone – what a perspective! We never tire of seeing photos of these incredible coastal landmarks along @visitgreatoceanroad in #Victoria – they certainly are extremely photogenic. Whether it's from the air, the cliff top viewing areas or down on the beach, there always seems to be a new angle from which to capture these epic rock formations, so it's no surprise they're one of Australia's most photographed natural attractions. 📷
"I've been practicing my pensive look… thoughts?" @trex.photography prefers to snap wildlife portraits rather than people – and when your subjects are as cooperative as the kangaroos at #LuckyBay, it's understandable! You simply must visit this stunning #Esperance beach if you're travelling through @australiasgoldenoutback, and if you're lucky (pardon the pun!) the local roos will come right up and say g'day.
There's nothing like a crisp morning in the @bluemountainsaustralia 🙌 This is the extraordinary vista from #GovettsLeap, which is one of the most famous lookouts in @visitnsw. The nearby historic town of #Blackheath is one of the highest towns above sea level in the area, plus it's built on an escarpment so there's mind-boggling scenery on both sides of the township. A getaway here means fresh mountain air, brisk walks, great food and cosy accommodation – sounds bearable! Photo: @wanderer_rachel
“OMG that was the best joke EVER!” – The quokkas of @rottnestislandwa love a good belly laugh…they are the world’s happiest critters, after all! 😂 These adorable little fellows that hop around #Rotto are certainly not shy – in fact, they’ll come right up to you to say g’day. If you can’t make it over to #Rottnest, you can see them at @perthzoo, and plenty of other wildlife parks in @westernaustralia and around the rest of the country. Photo: @_mattchristie_
Who doesn’t love a good belly rub? Harry from @symbiozoo is clearly a big fan! This gorgeous fellow was sadly orphaned when he was only four months old and the amazing team at #Symbio decided to cross surrogate him into another koala’s pouch – which was a success and he’s now grown into the happy koala that you see here. Over the last few months Harry has developed the closest of bonds with Zoo Keeper Tami Wilson, every time she goes into the Koala Sanctuary, he either jumps on her or runs over for loads of belly tickles and cuddles. The connection that the two have is simply amazing!
A video posted by Australia (@australia) on
US Department of the Interior (usinterior)
The US Department of the Interior is responsible for America’s national parks, so the beauty captured in its Instagram feed should come as no surprise.
America is famed for its diversity, with a trip from the east coast to the west coast bringing you from lush greenery in the north and swamps in the south to desert.
This account captures that transition and everything in between, bringing you from Florida to the Grand Canyon.
Happy first day of #spring! What better way to celebrate than with this serenely beautiful pic of spring #wildflowers at #GrandTeton #NationalPark in #Wyoming. As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, spring is the perfect time to get outdoors and explore America’s #publiclands! Photo @grandtetonnps by Jon LeVasseur (www.sharetheexperience.org).
One of the most noticeable animals at #BigCypress National Preserve (@bigcypressnps) in #Florida is the American #alligator. This large reptile is commonly seen during the winter dry seasons, when it has fewer places to hide. Growing up to 15 feet long, it’s a sight most visitors won’t forget after exploring this amazing 729,000-acre freshwater #swamp. Photo by Robert Sullivan (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Is there anything more peaceful than watching the #sunset over the water? At St. Marks National #WildlifeRefuge in #Florida, experience coastal marshes, islands, tidal creeks and estuaries of seven north Florida rivers and marvel at the diverse community of plant and animal life. The refuge also has strong ties to a rich cultural past, and is home to the St. Marks #Lighthouse, which was built in 1842 and is still in use today. Photo by Viktor Posnov (www.sharetheexperience.org). #worldwaterday
#Saguaros reach their arms to the sky in this #sunset silhouette at #SonoranDesert National Monument in #Arizona. Just south of Phoenix, a captivating desert landscape protects these majestic cacti, which can take 100 years to start growing arms. If you’re in the area, make a day trip and be sure to stay after the sun goes down — the night sky viewing is some of the best in the United States. Photo by Bob Wick, @mypubliclands. 🌵
Is there anything cuter than this baby #fox at Great Swamp National #WildlifeRefuge? 🐺 Located in #newjersey just 26 miles from New York City's Times Square, the refuge consists of more than 7,700 acres of habitat for birds, deer, turtles and foxes, like this adorable kit. Photo by Ashleigh Scully via @usfws. #findyourpark
The Visuals Collective (thevisualscollective)
Founded and curated by photographer Brett Brooner, The Visuals Collective collects – the hint was in the name – stunning images from around the world, gathering together the ethereal, majestic and jaw-droppingly-good images taken by its members.
Capturing glimpses of mountainscapes, oceans, remote locations and inquisitive wildlife – with just a few of us humans thrown in for good measure – the account is basically a must-follow.
A photo posted by The Visuals Collective (@thevisualscollective) on
A photo posted by The Visuals Collective (@thevisualscollective) on
If you ever needed a reminder that this world is worth saving, or celebrating, just look to Ireland.
From the Cliffs of Moher and Killarney National Park to UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Giant’s Causeway, Skellig Michael and the Burren, we really do pack a whole lot of pretty into this little island.
Insta_Ireland goes a long way towards capturing that.
Puffin at Skellig Michael Co. Kerry, Ireland by George ➲@georgekarbus Hashtag your photos taken in Ireland to #insta_ireland & don't forget to follow us ツ CC: @discostubugaloo @kenmare1 @sergio_from_ireland #ireland_gram#instaireland#inspireland_#love_ireland#icu_ireland#ireland#irish#eire#igersdublin#igireland#igersireland#irishigers#thisisireland#loveireland#ирландия#ig_ireland#irlanda#worldplaces#wonderful_places#beautifuldestinations#discoverearth#bestvacations#natureaddict#discoverireland Photo selected by @aidancoughlan
A photo posted by @insta_ireland on
Finally, we turn to NASA, because who better to showcase this planet in all its wondrous beauty than those who have seen the entire thing at once.
The NASA feed does stray from this pale blue dot frequently, but when it focuses on us, boy, does it do it well.
Stunning Aurora from Space: This stunning aurora captured from the International Space Station. Auroras are a space weather phenomenon that occur when electrically-charged electrons and protons collide with neutral atoms in the upper atmosphere. The dancing lights of the aurora provide a spectacular show for those on the ground, but also capture the imaginations of scientists who study the aurora and the complex processes that create them. Credit: NASA #nasa #space #spacestation #iss aurora #weather #science
Be amazed! See video of our home planet from the view of the International Space Station crew. We monitors Earth’s vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. The International Space Station hosts a variety of payloads and experiments supporting climate research, weather predictions, hurricane monitoring, pollution tracking, disaster response and more. Credit: NASA #nasa #iss #space #spacestation #earth #earthscience #earthrightnow #earthday #science
‘Beautiful to watch the sun reflected from Earth as we approach night,’ wrote astronaut Tim Peake of the European Space Agency. Peake (@astro_timpeake) shared the image on April 9. The station is a unique place – a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. It is a microgravity laboratory in which an international crew of six people live and work while traveling at a speed of 17,500 mph, orbiting Earth every 90 minutes. Image Credit: ESA/NASA #nasa #space #iss #spacestation #earth #sun
A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on
Astronauts Jeff Williams (@astro_jeffw), who recently launched to the International Space Station (@ISS), snapped this image and wrote, 'The AMAZING view up here is one big reason it's so great to be back. Glaciers and lakes Patagonia.' The station is a unique place – a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. It is a microgravity laboratory in which an international crew of six people live and work while traveling at a speed of 17,500 mph, orbiting Earth every 90 minutes. Image Credit: NASA #nasa #space #iss #spacestation #glacier #patagonia #lake #earth
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Ireland is seen here from the International Space Station on a moonlit night under an amazing and ever-changing green aurora. This image was taken by NASA astronaut Terry Virts on Feb. 6, 2015. Also seen here are the United Kingdom and Scandinavia. Image Credit: NASA #stpatricksday #nasa #space #spacestation #iss #aurora #earth #ireland
Earth is beautiful! NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) captures photographs and video of the Earth from the International Space Station (@ISS) routinely. On Jan. 25, 2016, Kelly shared this stunning image, writing "Day 304. That's 4,864 orbits around' our beautiful planet #Earth." The station is a unique place – a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that demonstrates new technologies and makes research breakthroughs not possible on Earth. It is a microgravity laboratory in which an international crew of six people live and work while traveling at a speed of 17,500 mph, orbiting Earth every 90 minutes. Image Credit: NASA #nasa #space #iss #spacestation #yearinspace #earth
Earthrise from Christmas Eve, 1968: Millions around the world were watching and listening as the Apollo 8 astronauts – Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and Bill Anders – became the first humans to orbit another world. As their command module floated above the lunar surface, the astronauts beamed back images of the moon and Earth and took turns reading from the book of Genesis, closing with a wish for everyone "on the good Earth." The mission was also famous for the iconic "Earthrise" image, snapped by Anders, which would give humankind a new perspective on their home planet. Anders has said that despite all the training and preparation for an exploration of the moon, the astronauts ended up discovering Earth. Credits: NASA #nasa #space #apollo #christmas #apollo8 #history #otd #moon #earth #holiday #merrychristmas
Main image via Shutterstock