These Spectacular Wildlife Images Won Big at a Top Photography Contest

Meet the photographers who clinched the People's Choice Awards for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Nima Sarikhani, Ice Bed. Photo: © Nima Sarikhani / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

A tender image of a young polar bear drifting off to sleep in a bed he carved out of an iceberg has won over the masses. The photograph, titled Ice Bed, won British amateur photographer Nima Sarikhani the People’s Choice Award for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, a prize organized by London’s Natural History Museum.

To capture the image, Sarikhani spent three days searching for polar bears through a dense fog around Norway’s far-northern Svalbard archipelago. Finally encountering a young male bear just before midnight, he watched as it climbed the small iceberg, clawed away at the sea ice, then curled up into a serene slumber.

In a statement, Douglas Gurr, the museum’s director, described the image as a poignant reflection on habitat loss: “His thought-provoking image is a stark reminder of the integral bond between an animal and its habitat.”

The photograph was selected from a shortlist of 25 images, whittled down from 50,000 submissions. A record 75,000 voters participated in the 59th installment of the competition. The image, along with four other “highly commended” finalists, will be on view at the London museum through June 30.

Audun Rikardsen, Aurora Jellies. Photo: © Audun Rikardsen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

The other finalists include Norwegian photographer Audun Rikardsen, who captured Aurora Jellies, an ethereal image of the aurora borealis illuminating the night sky over the waters of a fjord, aglow with the bioluminescence of moon jellyfish.

Kenyan Photographer Mark Boyd captured two lionesses grooming one of their shared cubs together after an unsuccessful hunt. Lionesses raise each other’s cubs as their own. Shared Parenting evokes the bond of sisterhood as well as the universal love of motherhood.

Mark Boyd, Shared Parenting. Photo: © Mark Boyd, Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Starling Murmuration by German/Romanian photographer Daniel Dencescu was shot in Rome, Italy. He followed the starlings across the city for days as they danced across the sky, creating enchanting organic shapes. In Israeli photographer Tzahi Finkelstein’s The Happy Turtle, a balkan pond turtle smiles as a northern banded groundling dragonfly pays it a visit in the swampy waters of Israel’s Jezreel Valley.

Tzahi Finkelstein, The Happy Turtle. Photo: © Tzahi Finkelstein / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Daniel Dencescu, Starling Murmuration. Photo: © Daniel Dencescu / Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

The prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition celebrates the nature-focused work of amateur or professional photographers. The 60th edition is currently being judged by an international panel, with its winners set to be announced in October 2024.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year” is on view at the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London, through June 30.

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