World watch 2022: The most incredible images of the year

World watch 2022: The most incredible images of the year
These amazing images celebrate beauty and diversity of the incredible world we all share, from ordinary people finding joy amid the hardships of war, to rare sightings of unique wildlife. 

Seeing thousands of great white pelicans flying in the sky is a dream come true for many dedicated birdwatchers. Yet for the fish farmers of Israel, the annual migration of 45,000 of the large birds from the Balkans to Africa, with a pit stop in Israel, is more of a portent of doom. The hungry birds seek out rich pickings in the fish farmers’ outdoor commercial pools and reservoirs, leading to a loss of income for the farmers. Authorities have turned to a more ingenious solution to deter them by offering the pelicans a free lunch. Some 2.5 tonnes of second rate fish was put into a designated pond in Mishmar HaSharon, a communal kibbutz near Israel’s Mediterranean coast, where the pelicans could feast.

Migrating Great White pelicans gather at a water reservoir in Mishmar Hasharon, central Israel. Reuters/Amir Cohen 

Huge crowds thronged the streets of London and at Windsor Castle to witness the moving, grand processions and ceremonies for the Queen’s state funeral. “Few leaders receive the outpouring of love that we have seen,” Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, told the congregation at the state funeral in the majestic Westminster Abbey, where monarchs have been married, buried and crowned over the last 1,000 years.

The Queen’s funeral cortege borne on the State Gun Carriage of the Royal Navy travels along The Mall on September 19, 2022 in London, England. Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor was born in Bruton Street, Mayfair, London on 21 April 1926. Chip Somodevilla/Pool via REUTERS

Members of the colla ‘Colla Vella Xiquets de Valls’ build a human tower during the 28th Tarragona Competition on October 2, 2022 in Tarragona, Spain. The ‘Castellers’ Catalan tradition was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the need to minimise social distance in order to build castles. This season is the first full season since 2019. ‘Castellers’ who build the human towers with precise techniques compete in groups, know as ‘colles’, at local festivals with aim to build the highest and most complex human tower.

The Catalan tradition is believed to have originated from human towers built at the end of the 18th century by dance groups and is part of the Catalan culture. Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

For the Pomaks in the remote mountain village of Ribnovo, the winter months are a time of celebration. Pomaks are Bulgaria’s Muslim community, and in Ribnovo, they follow the unique tradition of marrying only in winter. As per tradition, the bride must keep her eyes closed during the entire ceremony. Only after the imam blesses the couple and her husband washes her face will she be permitted to open her eyes.These traditional Pomak weddings were once banned in Bulgaria under the country’s communist regime. It wasn’t until 1989 when the regime fell, that the wedding tradition was revived.

The Muslim groom Shaban Kiselov, and the bride Nefie Eminkova,poses for a picture with friends in front of the dowdry their received on their wedding day on January 9, 2022 in Ribnovo, Bulgaria. Photo by Hristo Rusev/Getty Images

Every morning from about 6am until the sun starts to gather heat around 9:30am, local villagers from various tributaries congregate in their jukungs (small wooden canoes) to sell or barter their goods at one of three traditional floating markets in the Indonesian city of Banjarmasin. There are three well-known Floating Markets in Banjarmasin; Muara Kuin, Siring and Lok Baintan. Lok Baintan Floating Market is the most crowded – taking place since the 18th century along the coast of the Martapura River.

Photo taken in Banjarmasin, Indonesia

The boy seen here on the playground next to a heavily damaged apartment building is in the town of Borodianka, Ukraine. Before the Russian invasion the quiet town had approximately 13,000 residents. As Russian forces fought in and near Kyiv, Borodianka, which is on a strategically important road, was targeted by numerous Russian airstrikes.

A boy is seen on the playground next to a heavily damaged apartment building on July 7, 2022 in Borodianka, Ukraine. Photo by Alexey Furman/Getty Images

Each year during the Madhav Narayan festival, Bhaktapur becomes a true city of holiness. One of the most remarkable sights during the sacred event is the procession of Hindu devotees offering up prayers by rolling on the ground. The unusual practice involves the devotees slowly rolling their way down towards the river, sometimes stopping and waiting for the other ‘rollers’ to catch up.

Hindu devotee offer prayers by rolling on the ground as a part of a ritual during Madhav Narayan festival in Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Kathmandu on February 3, 2022. Photo by PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP via Getty Images

Dressed as characters from Hindu mythology, these children collect offerings from devotees during Dev Deepawali, also known as Dev Diwali, in the sacred Indian city of Varanasi. Not to be confused with Diwali (although both are festivals of lights), Dev Deepawali comes 15 days after Diwali and marks Lord Shiva’s victory over the demon Tripurasur. Mythologically, the gods are believed to descend to Earth to bathe in the Ganges on this day, hence devotees travel to Varanasi from all over the world to take a dip in the holy water of the river, believing it washes away one’s sins and brings prosperity.

Little children dressed as different Hindu Mythological Characters for collecting offerings from Devotees during the festival. Photo by Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As Russian forces continued their attack on the Ukrainian city of Kyiv, two members of Ukraine’s defence force found a moment of reprieve to celebrate their love. Lesya Ivashchenko and Valeriy Filimonov exchanged vows and rings in a small wedding ceremony on the side of the road. The couple, who have been together for 20 years and have an 18-year-old daughter who watched the ceremony over a video call, said amid all the uncertainty, they wished to celebrate the good in their lives. “We must take as much as we can from life,” Ivashchenko said. “I’m happy we are alive, that this day started, that my husband is alive, and he is with me.”

Members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces Lesia Ivashchenko and Valerii Fylymonov exchange rings at their wedding during Ukraine-Russia conflict, at a checkpoint in Kyiv, Ukraine March 6, 2022. REUTERS/Mykola Tymchenko

Forty-eight horsemen took part in the annual ‘Cuadrillas de San Martín’ parade in San Martín de Los Llanos, Colombia, following a tradition that has continued for more than 280 years. The Cuadrillas de San Martín is the largest celebration in the Colombian town, which is located in the Meta region. The Cuadrillas de San Martín is a tradition that is said to have begun in 1735 when a priest named Gabino de Balboa formed crews of horsemen to act out the battles between the Moors and Christians. Some believe the celebration comes from the indigenous Achuaga tradition, while others argue that it originates from the equestrian ballets of Spain.

People in costumes take part in the “Cuadrillas de San Martin” parade in San Martin de Los Llanos, Meta, Colombia. Photo by Juancho Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In Kenya’s northern Eastern Province live the Rendille people, with most of this tribe found within the Kaisut Desert and Mount Marsabit in the Marsabit District. ‘Rendille’ translates as ‘Holders of the Stick of God’.  Here two Rendille women are seen in traditional dress, which includes an abundance of beads worn around the neck, wrists and ankles. The moran (warriors) of the tribe also wear ornate necklaces, each specific to warriors within a clan and to a time in history, meaning the necklaces identify which group a warrior belongs to and his place in the chronology of his tribe.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Nastya Gracheva and Anton Sokolov, a young couple from Kharkiv, were working as a nurse and doctor in an oncology clinic. After weeks of air strikes and shelling in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, Gracheva and Sokolov stole a moment to get married, with the bride donning a white dress, leather jacket and flower crown, and the groom a black jacket and white shirt.  After the wedding, the couple posed for photographs in the ruined courtyard of a shopping complex in the centre of the city.

The newlyweds, medical volunteers, nurse in an oncology clinic and doctor before the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Nastya Gracheva and Anton Sokolov. Photo by SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images

A mosaic of intricately stained glass projects a kaleidoscope of light in the Nasir al-Mulk mosque in Shiraz, Iran. Known as the ‘pink mosque’, this stunning place of worship resides nearby other architecturally significant mosques; however, it is unique for its stained glass features, which are not typical in traditional mosques. Along with the prismatic windows, the mosque’s ceiling and arches are made up of thousands of painted tiles.

Nasir al-Mulk mosque (Pink mosque). Shiraz, Iran

Millions of years of erosion from wind and water have given the Upper Antelope Canyon in Arizona, US, its flowing rock formations. Located in the Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, the canyon is only accessible with Navajo guides, who share their knowledge of the site’s fascinating geology and history. Photographers flock to the canyon in the months between March and October to capture the shafts of light that appear around midday, illuminating the sweeping sandstone walls in swirling patterns of orange, red and gold.

Staff at a zoo in Switzerland were delighted when a Galápagos giant tortoise egg hatched recently, not only because the animal is among the most endangered in the world, but also because the tiny reptile turned out to have incredibly rare pigmentless skin and shell. The odds of an albino tortoise being born are reportedly one in 100,000 (the odds for albinism in humans, for comparison, are one in 20,000). The albino tortoise hatched at the Tropiquarium zoo in Servion along with a darker sibling, and weighed in at a miniscule 50 grams (literally fitting in the palm of one’s hand).

In India’s northeast state of Assam, about 10 kilometres from the capital city of Guwahati, lies the Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary, a vast and ecologically significant freshwater lake and wetland, where some of India’s largest congregations of migratory birds can be found. Since 1991, the site has faced ecological threats from nearby developments, shrinking the Deepor Beel’s size by 35 per cent. Pictured here is one such development, a garbage dump where a young boy picks through mountains of trash alongside giant storks.

Children are long-suffering victims in every war, with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine being no exception. Here Alexandra, 12, holds her sister Esyea, 6, who cries as she waves at her mother Irina, as they flee Russia’s invasion of the port town of Odessa.

Members of the Jewish community of Odessa flee Russia's invasion of Ukraine
Alexandra, 12, holds her sister Esyea, 6, who cries as she waves at her mother Irina, while members of the Jewish community of Odessa board a bus to flee Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Odessa, Ukraine, March 7, 2022. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis 

Eager people braved dizzying heights for the chance to sip cocktails in a newly built diamond-shaped bar suspended over the Dashbashi Canyon in Georgia. Connected by a 240m glass bridge, the transparent structure sits 280m high above the vast canyon that lies a few kilometres outside of the small town of Tsalka, in the southeast of Georgia.

American photographer Spencer Tunick, who is known for his large-scale nude shoots, organised a meaningful installation at Sydney’s Bondi Beach on 26 November. The art project, which was done in collaboration with Skin Check Champions, aims to raise awareness of the risks of skin cancer and encourage Australians to get regular checks.

People stand naked as part of artist Spencer Tunick’s art installation to raise awareness of skin cancer and encourage people to have their skin checked, at Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia, November 26, 2022. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

The queen’s two corgis, Sandy and Muick, were brought out for the arrival of the coffin at the castle  on 19 September, where Elizabeth was to be buried later in the day following a grand state funeral. Held on leashes by palace staff, the dogs patiently waited in the forecourt of the castle.

The royal corgis await the cortege on the day of the state funeral and burial of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, at Windsor Castle in Windsor, Britain, September 19, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/Pool


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