In August 2016, National Geographic published a story about the Ogallala Aquifer and how it is being drained at a concerning rate to supply the Midwest with water. The massive underground freshwater basin was originally used to develop the Midwest and still replenishes it to this day. Irrigation machines drain the supply of water for farming purposes including wheat, corn, and cattle. Once the water is gone, aquifers such as this one could take thousands of years to refill. So, this image is part of a series of photographs taken to highlight the beauty of the surrounding area and the dangers that it faces in the coming years:
National Geographic photographer Randy Olson captured this image at the Platte River in Nebraska. About 413,000 sandhill cranes arrived to rest during the storm that took place that night. The massive gathering is pronounced with a large lightning bolt striking the Earth in the background. The frenzy of birds flying around and through the chaos helps add movement to the still image of the birds resting in the shallows beneath them. He captured a series of 30 second exposures and this was the one that suited his vision best. The high attention to detail and stunning depth of field shows more than one story about this location and these birds that rely on it. Their migration extends from Siberia to northern Mexico, and the Platte River is a perfect habitat for them to stop and roost.
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