These photos show our planet's natural forces and phenomena at their most unique and spectacular. Whether creepy, awe-inspiring, mind-boggling or simply beautiful, how fortunate are we to live in a world full of wonders like these?
1. Are you afraid of thunderstorms? Then you shouldn't move here. Lightning and thunder near the mouth of the Rio Catatumbo in Venezuela occur up to an astounding 160 days per year, 10 hours a day and 160 times an hour!
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2. Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean is home to more than 120 million crabs. During late Fall, they leave the forest and head to the beach to mate. This red mass migration gave birth to these spectacular pictures!
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3. At first look, this looks like a big stone. But it's alive! These fascinating sea creatures live off the coast of Chile and Peru.
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4. When waters flooded these spiders' normal habitat in Pakistan, they took refuge in the trees and made themselves at home.
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imgur/fiucj
5. These unusual cloud formations develop when strong wind currents are brought to oscillation by the mountain terrain.
6. It looks like frozen hair! But it's actually needle ice coated by bacteria called pseudomonas syringae. The result is these ice curls. 
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7. The eerie green glow of the Northern Lights is one of the most beautiful natural spectacles on earth. They occur when the wind particles speed up and escape through the magnetic field into the atmosphere. There they encounter gas atoms which make the sky blaze wonderfully.
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8. You have to look at these photos twice: a river in a river? This phenomenon can be found in Mexico. Heavier substances sink to the bottom of the river so that an underwater river forms. An unbelievable sight!
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9. This luminescence occurs when plankton in the water emit light signals due to movement on the water. The water turns itself into a blue-light rug.
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10. This natural gas crater in Turkmenistan is called the "Gate to Hell." The flame has been burning for almost 50 years!
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11. These impressive lightning bolts are a natural reaction to massive amounts of energy being released into the atmosphere by a volcano. Absolutely breathtaking!
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12. These up to 800 pound boulders carve grooves into the surface of Death Valley in California. Scientists recently discovered the explanation: frost and ice make the surface so smooth during the winter, that the massive stones slide on top of the thin ice covering the sand.
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13. Who bothered to paint this tree? None other than Mother Nature herself! The Rainbow Eucalyptus, which grows in both the Philippines and Indonesia, has bark that matures and sheds at different rates. As the various layers become visible, the bright green turns into a rich dark green, then turns to blue, purple, pink, orange, red — and finally to brown.
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imgur/fiucj
14. That's no blue lava erupting from the Kawah Ijen volcano on the Indonesian island of Java. It's 1,000-degree sulfur reacting with oxygen in the atmosphere. It catches fire immediately and transforms into a burning, blue liquid rolling down the side of the volcano. 
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15. This lake in Tanzania contains so much salt that dead animals transform into terrifying salt statues. Creepy and fascinating at the same time.
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Rainbow trees, wandering stones, and underwater rivers; it's simply incredible what wonders Earth holds. It sort of makes you think, though. We need to take better care of our planet so that the whole place doesn't end up looking like the last two pictures! 
If you're thinking of making some end of year gifts and haven't yet decided which organizations to support, here are a few ideas:
There are other ways to get involved at a local level by volunteering with these and other organizations. If you're passionate about the beauty of nature, you can help preserve it for future generations.

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