A picture of a polar bear has claimed the top prize in a photo award competition, leaving spectators mesmerized.
The image, which shows a young polar bear drifting off to sleep on an iceberg, was captured by British amateur photographer Nima Sarikhani and has now been credited with the top prize for Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the People's Choice Award.
The shot was picked from a shortlist of 25 images in a public vote that saw 75,000 nature and photography enthusiasts choose their favorite picture to win the prestigious award.
Speaking of the victory, Sarikhani said: "I am so honored to have won this year’s People’s Choice Award for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the most prestigious wildlife photography competition."
"This photograph has stirred strong emotions in many of those who have seen it," he continued. "Whilst climate change is the biggest challenge we face, I hope that this photograph also inspires hope. Polar bears are incredibly adaptable and, in some areas, increasing in number, and there is still time to fix the mess we have caused."
Dr Douglas Gurr, director of the Natural History Museum, which runs the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition also spoke of the image, stating that the picture is a visual representation of the impacts of climate change and habitat loss.
"Nima's breathtaking and poignant image allows us to see the beauty and fragility of our planet," Gurr stated. "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."Have a look at the image below:
Sarikhani, who is from London, England, was on the search for polar bears in the Arctic Ocean in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago when he witnessed a young male climbing onto a small iceberg, using his paws to scrape away the ice to carve out a bed for himself before drifting off to sleep.
The image was later reposted to Instagram where hundreds of other nature enthusiasts also expressed their love for the unique shot.
"Huge congratulations @nsarikhani - such a beautiful photograph!! Extremely well deserved," wrote one user while another added: "The only real winner Image, it has so much emotional meaning, about what the ecosystem is actually for the ice bear. No other image in that contest, had so much meaning and emotions."
Others also asked if they could buy "copies" of the photograph due to how much they loved it.
Other images that were popular shortlisted options included the interaction between a pond turtle and a northern banded groundling dragonfly, and a starling murmuration forming the shape of a bird.
Two lionesses grooming a cub and two moon jellyfish illuminated by the aurora borealis in a fjord in Norway were also among some of the fan favorites but there could only be one winner in the end.
Congratulations to Nima Sarikhani on winning Wildlife Photographer of the Year at the People's Choice Award!