Polar bear ice bed wins people's vote

Ice Bed. Image: Nima Sarikhani/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

An image of a young polar bear drifting to sleep on a bed carved into an iceberg has won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award.

Amateur photographer Nima Sarikhani, who is from the UK, took the photo off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. Having spent three days desperately searching for polar bears through thick fog in the far north, the expedition vessel Nima was on decided to change course. It headed south-east, where there was still some sea ice.

Here it encountered two polar bears. Just before midnight, the young male bear clambered onto a small iceberg and, using his paws, carved out a bed for himself before drifting off to sleep.

"Whilst climate change is the biggest challenge we face, this photograph also inspires hope - there is still time to fix the mess we have caused.”

Nima Sarikhani, photographer

Nima says, “I am so honoured to have won this year's People’s Choice award for 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.”

Nima’s image and four highly commended finalists were selected from a shortlist of 25 images chosen by the Natural History Museum, London, which produces the competition, and an international judging panel. Over 75,000 people from around the world cast their votes to name Nima Sarikhani this year’s winner.

Director of the Natural History Museum 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.”

The highly commended finalists included The Happy Turtle by Tzahi Finkelstein and Aurora Jellies by Audun Rikardsen.

The Happy Turtle. Image: Tzahi Finkelstein/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Aurora Jellies. Image: Audun Rikardsen/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The five images will be displayed both online and in the accompanying exhibition at the Natural History Museum, London, UK, until on 30 June 2024. Tickets can be booked on the museum's website.