Polar bear sleeping on iceberg wins Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award

A photo of a polar bear sleeping on an iceberg has won the People’s Choice category in a wildlife photography competition run by the National History Museum in the UK.

Called the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the competition attracted more than 50,000 entries from around the world.

Judges announced the overall winner in October, with the grand title taken out by Laurent Ballesta for his photo of a horseshow crab with three little golden trevally fish swimming above it.

Of the 50,000 images, there were only 100 finalists.

Then the judges and the museum shortlisted 25 images to be displayed in the London museum, with members of the public asked to vote for their favourite.

Overnight, the museum announced that Nima Sarikhani’s photo, called Ice Bed, was the public’s top pick.

The UK photographer took the image while on an expedition vessel in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago.

“Having spent three days searching for polar bears through thick fog, the expedition vessel I was on deciding to change course,” Sarikhani explained on Instagram.

“It turned and headed to where there was still some sea ice.

“Here we encountered a younger and an older male and watched the pair over the following eight hours.

“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.”

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The photographer said it was an honor to be named the public’s favorite.

“I love that this image stirs so much emotion in people,” Sarikhani said in a statement.

“Some find it happy and peaceful, and some find it somehow melancholic or ominous.

“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.”

Top four images

While the polar bear image was the winner, four others were awarded highly commended prizes.

Lionesses groom one of the pride's five cubs in Kenya's Maasai Mara.

Lions in Kenya’s Maasai Mara.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Mark Boyd)

Turtle with bugs in its mouth

A Balkan pond turtle and a northern banded groundling dragonfly in Israel’s Jezreel Valley.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Tazi Finkelstein)

Moon jellyfish swarm in the cool autumnal waters of a fjord outside Tromsø in northern Norway

Moon jellyfish illuminated by the aurora borealis outside Tromsø in Norway.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Audun Rikardsen)

The mesmerizing movements of the starlings as they formed colossal organic shapes in the sky over Rome, Italy.

Starlings in the sky over Rome, Italy.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Daniel Dencescu)

Other photos in the running

The top five images were selected by the public from a shortlist of 25 photos, with the museum saying they were all memorable images

Two photos in the selection were taken in Australia.

The one below was taken by Charles Davis in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales.

It shows a wood duck and her ducklings

A wood duck and its brood were caught in a late spring snowstorm in Smiggin Holes, New South Wales, Australia.

A wood duck and its brood in Smiggin Holes, a village in the Snowy Mountains. (Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Charles Davis)

The second Australian photo came from Ofer Levy, who took the photo below in Western Australia’s Roebuck Bay.

It shows a challenge between a territorial mudskipper and a trespassing crab.

A mudskipper fiercely defends its territory from a trespassing crab in Roebuck Bay, Australia.

A mudskipper and a crab in Roebuck Bay, WA.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Ofer Levy)

Here are other images the public voted on.

A male and female hare touch noses in Scotland's Monadhliath Mountains

Hares Scotland’s Monadhliath Mountains.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Andy Parkinson)

An Ethiopian wolf poses serenely in the Bale Mountains National park, the Afro-alpine shrubland of the highlands of Ethiopia.

An Ethiopian wolf in the Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Axel Gomille)

Standing on a rock in the Judean Foothills of Israel, a red fox cub locks eyes with a shrew

A red fox cub and a shrew in the Judean Foothills of Israel.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Ayala Fishaimer )

A bull elephant kicks over garbage as it scavenges for rotten vegetables and fruit at a dump in Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.

A bull elephant in Tissamaharama, Sri Lanka.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Bret Stirton)

A rack of coats made from the skins of some of the most endangered big cats on Earth, including snow leopard, jaguar and ocelot

Coats are made from the skins of endangered cats including the snow leopard, jaguar and ocelot.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Britta Jaschinski)

A Celebes crested macaque investigates the contents of a plastic bottle from a pile ready for recycling.

A Celebes crested macaque in Indonesia.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Claire Waring)

A snowshoe hare sleeping on a small snow mound deep in the forests of the Rocky Mountain National Park, USA.

A snowshoe hare in the US.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Deena Sveinsson)

A rarely photographed pygmy round-eared bat in the lowland rainforests of Costa Rica

A pygmy round-eared bat in Costa Rica.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Dvir Barkay)

Near Montpellier, France, a cuckoo wasp is captured mid-air trying to enter a mason bee's clay burrow

Cuckoo wasps near a mason bee’s clay burrow in France.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Frank Deschandol)

A curious lion cub walks towards the photographer in South Africa's Greater Kruger National Park

Lions in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Gerald Hinde)

A barn swallow flies over a meadow of cornflowers, catching insects during springtime in eastern Germany.

A barn swallow in Germany.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Hermann Hirsch and Jan Lessman)

A grizzly bear is seen salmon fishing in Canada's Chilko River.

A grizzly bear in Canada’s Chilko River.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: John E Marriott)

A humpback whale calf misses some of its mother's milk

A humpback whale calf with some of its mother’s milk, which swirls in the currents off the coast of Rurutu, French Polynesia.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Karim Iliya)

A gelada suckles its baby alongside a companion at the edge of a plateau in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia.

Geladas in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Marco Gaiotti)

A young male red fox learns the best time to climb into a street bin in London

A red fox in London.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Matt Maran)

A rescued chimpanzee looks pensively through its cage in the National Park of Upper Niger.

A rescued chimpanzee looks pensively through its cage in the National Park of Upper Niger. The center houses orphaned chimpanzees that have been rescued from being sold as pets after their mothers were killed for meat.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Roberto Garcia-Roa)

Stefan Christmann - Wildlife Photography

Adélie penguins in Antarctica’s Atka Bay.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Stefan Chrismann)

A small corner of the River Cabriel, among the bulrushes and quaking aspens in the Sierra de Albarracin Mountains, Spain.

A small corner of the River Cabriel, among the bulrushes and quaking aspens in the Sierra de Albarracin Mountains, Spain.(Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023: Uge Fuertes Sanz)

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