A momentary encounter from afar with a California sea lion is the winning image in The Nature Conservancy's 2019 Photo Contest. Chosen from more than 100,000 entries, the underwater photo was taken by Tyler Schiffman in Monterey Bay, California.

"I had been shooting kelp bursts all day as the light was exploding amongst the canopy above. I had framed this shot waiting for a sea lion to swim by. After 5 minutes, one swam up and paused for a few seconds, I took 3 photos and as rare as it was the moment left in a blink of an eye."

This year's photo contest received a record 121,774 photo entries from 152 countries.

"The natural world inspires a sense of wonder in all of us," said Richard Loomis, chief marketing officer for The Nature Conservancy. "Indeed, at the very soul of conservation is a deep awe of nature. These photographs are a powerful reminder of the importance of sharing our vision of nature and working together to save the lands and waters on which all life depends."

Here's a look at some of this year's winners with descriptions, when available, from the photographers. To see all the winning photos, visit The Nature Conservancy's website.

People's Choice Winner

A small waterfall and stream in Wasior, West Papua
A small waterfall and stream in Wasior, West Papua (Photo: Diyanto Sarira/TNC Photo Contest 2019)

The People’s Choice award went to Diyanto Sarira of Indonesia for a photo of a small waterfall and stream in Wasior, West Papua.

First Place, Water

A whale shark swimming in the depths off of Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia.
A whale shark swimming in the depths off of Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. (Photo: Alex Kydd/TNC Photo Contest 2019)

"A whale shark swimming in the depths off of Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia. The rare weather conditions and visibility allowed for this image. The light rays penetrating the water can only be achieved when visibility is at its best and there is no wind."

Second Place, Water

A flock of flamingos fly over the colorful salt lake, the floating foam pattern looks like lightning on the lake.
A flock of flamingos fly over the colorful salt lake, the floating foam pattern looks like lightning on the lake. (Photo: Hao Jiang/TNC Photo Contest 2019)

"A flock of flamingos fly over the colorful salt lake, the floating foam pattern looks like lightning on the lake. The photo was taken from a helicopter at lake Magadi in Kenya on March, 2018."

First Place, Landscape

Skier heading down a mountain slope in Slovenia.
Skier heading down a mountain slope in Slovenia. (Photo: Colin Ronald/TNC Photo Contest 2019)

"On the last day of a 5-day ski tour in Slovenia, we finally found ourselves above the clouds, able to see something other than fog for the first time in the entire trip. Sam takes first tracks as he skis back towards the fog with which we had become all too familiar."

Second Place, Landscape

Drone photo showing the pink hues of a pink lake called Hutt Lagoon, Western Australia.
Drone photo showing the pink hues of a pink lake called Hutt Lagoon, Western Australia. (Photo: Leigh Miller/TNC Photo Contest 2019)

"Drone photo showing the amazing pink hues of a Pink Lake called Hutt Lagoon, Western Australia."

First Place, Wildlife

Polar Bear in Svalbard, Norway June 2019
Polar Bear in Svalbard, Norway June 2019 (Photo: Fernando O’Farrill/TNC Photo Contest 2019)

"Polar Bear in Svalbard, Norway June 2019."

Second Place, Wildlife

A Chestnut-sided Warbler sings out.
A Chestnut-sided Warbler sings out. (Photo: Raymond Hennessy/TNC Photo Contest 2019)

"A Chestnut-sided Warbler sings out while silhouetted against the bright forest in the background."

First Place, People in Nature

Fisherman in Hon Yen, Phu Yen, Vietnam
Fisherman in Hon Yen, Phu Yen, Vietnam (Photo: Vinh Le van/TNC Photo Contest 2019/TNC Photo Contest 2019)

"Fisherman in Hon Yen, Phu Yen, Vietnam."

Second Place, People in Nature

A young African refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo floating in the waters of Guanabara Bay, Ramos Beach.
A young African refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo floating in the waters of Guanabara Bay, Ramos Beach. (Photo: Fabio Teixeira/TNC Photo Contest 2019)

"Retrato nas Aguas da Baía de Guanabara." (Portrait in the waters of Guanabara Bay)

First Place, Cities and Nature

Golden Gate Bridge during a low fog event.
Golden Gate Bridge during a low fog event. (Photo: Jay Huang/TNC Photo Contest 2019)

"It was taken in 11/9/2014 at Golden Gate Bridge alignment spot during a low fog event."

Second Place, Cities and Nature

Mestia, a small city in Georgia, at night.
Mestia, a small city in Georgia, at night. (Photo: Yevhen Samuchenko/TNC Photo Contest 2019)

"Mestia in night — small city in Georgia."

Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.