Polar bear’s iceberg snooze melts hearts, wins wildlife photo award

This dreamy image of a polar bear drifting to sleep on a bed carved into an iceberg is the winner of the 2023 Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award.

British amateur photographer Nima Sarikhani, who captured the stunning moment after three days on an expedition vessel off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, said: “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.”

“Nima’s breathtaking and poignant image allows us to see the beauty and fragility of our planet,” said Douglas Gurr, director of London’s Natural History Museum, which hosts the yearly competition.

More than 50,000 photographs were entered into the competition last year, of which 25 were shortlisted by a panel of judges and the Natural History Museum, it said. “Ice Bed” was chosen as the winner by 75,000 members of the public — a record number, the museum said.

Here are the four other images that were highly commended in the competition:

Tzahi Finkelstein captured this moment between a Balkan pond turtle and a northern banded groundling dragonfly, while photographing shore birds in Israel’s Jezreel Valley.

“The dragonfly unexpectedly landed on the turtle’s nose, but instead of snapping up the insect, the turtle appeared to be experiencing pleasure from the interaction as they shared a moment in the midst of the swamp’s murky waters,” the Natural History Museum said.

‘Starling Murmuration’

Daniel Dencescu spent hours following starlings around Rome on a cloudless winter’s day before he managed to capture a flock of them swirl into the shape of a giant bird. The mesmerizing phenomenon of flock of starlings shifting into different shapes is known as murmuration.

The birds are by turns mesmerizing and maddening

In this photo by Mark Boyd, a pair of lionesses can be seen splitting parenting duties as they affectionately groom one of the pride’s cubs in Kenya’s Maasai Mara.

Audun Rikardsen played with exposure and flash to photograph a majestic aurora borealis — also known as the northern lights — illuminating a pair of moon jellyfish in the waters of a fjord outside Tromsø, northern Norway.

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