Rare Beauty

Photography by Joel Sartore November 1, 2010

In his new book Rare, acclaimed National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore presents 69 images of species hovering on the brink of extinction. These portraits, shot against stark backgrounds, are both intimate and immediate, revealing the exquisite beauty of even the smallest insect and making a powerful case for us to act before such beauty is forever lost. Many of the creatures Sartore photographed in his book can be found—or once were found—in Florida, including the 10 on these pages. 

“I’m hoping these pictures give a voice to the voiceless,” Sartore says, noting that the rate at which species are

disappearing has accelerated alarmingly in recent years. A total of 1,321 species are currently listed as endangered or threatened. Since 1973, only 49 have been removed from those lists—and nine of those later went extinct.

Rare: Portraits of America’s Endangered Species (National Geographic Focal Point, $24, hardcover). To see videos, learn more about how you can help save endangered species or order signed copies of the book, go to

Red wolf

(Canis rufus gregoryi)

Choctawhatchee beach mouse (Peromyscus polionotus allophrys)  

Eastern spadefoot toad

(Scaphiopus halbrookii)

Whooping crane (Grus americana)

Florida cooter (Pseudemys floridana)

Southeastern lubber grasshoppers (Romalea microptera)

Florida cottonmouth

(Agkistrodon piscivorus conanti)

Hatchling leatherback turtle

(Dermochelys coriacea)

Peregrine falcon

(Falco peregrinus)

“Orange,” the last Dusky Seaside Sparrow (Ammodramus maritimus nigriscens). This species went extinct in 1987, after its last habitats in Northeast Florida were ruined by man. “Orange” is kept in a vial of alcohol in the Natural History Museum at Florida State University.

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