The votes are in, the public has spoken and the winner of this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award goes to Nima Sarikhani for this surreal image of a polar bear falling asleep on a bed carved into an iceberg. 

Ice Bed 
A polar bear carves out a bed from a small iceberg before drifting off to sleep in the far north, off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. 
Nima Sarikhani / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

There were 25 finalists up for the award, but after a record number of votes from eager photographers and keen nature enthusiasts from across the globe, amateur photographer Sarikhani was given the top prize. 

"Nima’s breathtaking and poignant image allows us to see the beauty and fragility of our planet," says Dr Douglas Gurr, Director of the Natural History Museum, the organisation that runs the prestigious contest. "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 photo was taken from a vessel exploring Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. In an area where there was still some thick sea ice, the expedition encountered two polar bears. Just before midnight, one of the bears clambered onto a chunk of ice, clawed at it to make a bed, coiled up and drifted off to sleep. 

"I am so honoured to have won this year's People’s Choice award for WPY, the most prestigious wildlife photography competition," says Nima. "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 is joined by four other ‘Highly Commended’ finalists that also captivated nature lovers across the globe. 

Shared Parenting
A pair of lionesses devotedly groom one of the pride’s five cubs in Kenya’s Maasai Mara. 
Mark Boyd / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Starling Murmuration
A mesmerising mass of starlings swirl into the shape of a giant bird on their way to communal roosts above the city of Rome, Italy. 
Daniel Dencescu / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Aurora Jellies
Moon jellyfish swarm in the cool autumnal waters of a fjord outside Tromsø in northern Norway illuminated by the aurora borealis. 
Audun Rikardsen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The Happy Turtle
A Balkan pond turtle shares a moment of peaceful coexistence with a northern banded groundling dragonfly in Israel’s Jezreel Valley.
Tzahi Finkelstein / Wildlife Photographer of the Year

"Wildlife Photographer of the Year shines a light on inspiring and impactful stories from the natural world to create advocates for the planet," the competition organisers explain in a press release. "The annual competition for amateur and professional photographers of all ages from around the world uses photography’s unique emotive power to connect people with nature. Images entered into the sixtieth competition are currently being judged by an international panel of experts. The winners will be announced at the next annual awards ceremony which takes place in South Kensington in October 2024."

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London