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IMAGE SOURCE,NIMA SARIKHANI/WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR

A stunning image of a young polar bear drifting to sleep on an iceberg, by British amateur photographer Nima Sarikhani, has won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award.

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

“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.”

Sarikhani made the image after three days searching for polar bears through thick fog off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago.

Wildlife photography and nature fans from around the world were invited to vote from a short list of 25 images.

Four other outstanding finalists were “highly commended”.

The Happy Turtle, by Tzahi Finkelstein

A Balkan pond turtle and a northern banded groundling dragonflyIMAGE SOURCE,TZAHI FINKELSTEIN/WPY

Tzahi Finkelstein was in his hide, photographing shore birds, when he spotted a Balkan pond turtle walking in the shallow water.

The dragonfly unexpectedly landed on the turtle’s nose.

Starling Murmuration, by Daniel Dencescu

A starling murmuration in the sky over Rome, ItalyIMAGE SOURCE,DANIEL DENCESCU/WPY

Daniel Dencescu spent hours following the starlings around the city and suburbs of Rome, Italy.

Finally, on the cloudless winter’s day, the murmuration, swirled into the shape of a giant bird.

Shared Parenting, by Mark Boyd

Two lionesses groom a cubs in Maasai Mara, KenyaIMAGE SOURCE,MARK BOYD/WPY

Two lionesses had gone hunting, leaving the pride’s five cubs hidden overnight in dense bushes, in Kenya’s Maasai Mara Mara.

Returning from their unsuccessful mission, they called the cubs out on to the open grassland and began grooming.

Aurora Jellies, by Audun Rikardsen

Moon jellyfish pictured in a fjord as the Aurora Borealis glow overheadIMAGE SOURCE,AUDUN RIKARDSEN/WPY

Sheltering his equipment in a self-made waterproof housing, Audun Rikardsen used his own system for adjusting the focus and aperture during a single exposure, as moon jellyfish swarmed in the cool autumnal waters of a fjord outside Tromsø, in northern Norway, illuminated by the aurora borealis.

The five images will be displayed online and at London’s Natural History Museum until 30 June.

All photos copyright Wildlife Photographer of the Year

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