Photo of polar bear sleeping on iceberg bed is People's Choice of 2023 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Photo of polar bear sleeping on iceberg bed is People’s Choice of 2023 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Wildlife Photographer of the Year people's choice

Wildlife Photographer of the Year asked for your vote in late 2023. And now, the winners have been announced. Nima Sarikhani’s dreamy image Ice Bed has received the most votes from the public, depicting a young polar bear drifting to sleep on a bed carved into an iceberg. While her photo has won the contest’s People’s Choice Award, there are four more highly commended images I’m sure you’ll also love.

Developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year selects 25 images for the People’s Choice Award. This year, the contest received a record number of votes, with over 75,000 people worldwide casting their votes. And the public had its say: British amateur photographer Nima Sarikhani is this year’s winner.

“Nima’s breathtaking and poignant image allows us to see the beauty and fragility of our planet,” said Director of the Natural History Museum, Dr Douglas Gurr. “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.”

About the winning photo

After three days of 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 clawed away at it using his strong paws to carve out a bed for himself. Nima captured the dreamlike moment the young bear drifted off to sleep.

Commenting on the first prize, Nima said:

“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.”

Wildlife Photographer of the Year people's choiceWildlife Photographer of the Year people's choice
©Nima Sarikhani/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Highly commended

As I mentioned, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition also announced four Highly Commended finalists. They include The Happy Turtle to put a smile on your face, Starling Murmuration to admire the fauna, Shared Parenting to make you go “awww”, and Aurora Jellies to remind you of the beauty hidden under the water’s surface.

All five images will be displayed online and in the accompanying exhibition at the Natural History Museum, London, until June 30, 2024. But as always, you can look at them below as well and enjoy this incredible celebration of the world around us. Make sure to check out the contest’s website for more details.

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