Sleeping Polar Bear Wins WPOTY People’s Choice Award
‘Ice Bed’, Nima Sarikhani’s dreamy image of a young polar bear drifting to sleep on a bed carved into an iceberg, has been voted as the winner of Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award.
The 25 images in the running for this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award received a record number of votes with over 75,000 wildlife photography and nature fans from around the world casting their votes to name British amateur photographer Nima Sarikhani this year’s winner.
Director of the Natural History Museum, Dr Douglas Gurr, says: ‘Nima’s breathtaking and poignant image allows us to see the beauty and fragility of our planet.
‘His thought-provoking image is a stark reminder of the integral bond between an animal and its habitat and serves as a visual representation of the detrimental impacts of climate warming and habitat loss.’
After three days searching for polar bears through thick fog off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, the expedition vessel Nima was on decided to change course and headed towards where there was still some sea ice. Here they encountered two polar bears.
Just before midnight, the young male clambered onto a small iceberg and, using his strong paws, clawed away at it to carve out a bed for himself. Nima captured the dreamlike moment the young bear drifted off to sleep.
Nima says: ‘I am so honoured to have won this year’s People’s Choice award for WPY, the most prestigious wildlife photography competition. This photograph has stirred strong emotions in many of those who have seen it.
‘Whilst climate change is the biggest challenge we face, I hope that this photograph also inspires hope; there is still time to fix the mess we have caused.’
The four ‘Highly Commended’ finalists that also captivated wildlife lovers across the globe include ‘The Happy Turtle’ by Tzahi Finkelstein, a fascinating interaction between a Balkan pond turtle and a northern banded groundling dragonfly, and ‘Starling Murmuration’ by Daniel Dencescu, which frames the moment a starling murmuration formed the shape of a bird.
Two lionesses groom one of the prides five cubs in Kenya’s Maasai Mara in Mark Boyd’s ‘Shared Parenting’, and Audun Rikardsen’s stunning capture ‘Aurora Jellies’ shows two moon jellyfish illuminated by the aurora borealis in a fjord in Norway.
Nima’s image and the four finalist ‘Highly Commended’ images were selected from a shortlist of 25 images chosen by the Natural History Museum, London, and an international judging panel from almost 50,000 images submitted for the fifty-ninth Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.
The five images will be displayed both online and in the accompanying exhibition at the Natural History Museum, London, until on 30 June 2024.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London. The competition shines a light on inspiring and impactful stories from the natural world to create advocates for the planet.
The annual competition for amateur and professional photographers of all ages from around the world uses photography’s unique emotive power to connect people with nature. Images entered into the sixtieth competition are currently being judged by an international panel of experts.
The winners will be announced at the next annual awards ceremony which takes place in South Kensington in October 2024.