Polar pas de deux
Driven by curiosity and hunger, this polar bear and her cub stopped to investigate the dirty puddle leaking from Eilo’s ship. Without hesitation and in synchrony, they quickly lowered their heads to taste the stained snow. Ashamed, Eilo framed her shot in black and white, emphasising the contrast between the pollution and the pristine environment.
Year on year, a variety of noxious substances are brought into these bears’ habitats. Due to their low degradation rates, the pollutants remain in the environment, gradually accumulating as they make their way through the food web. As apex predators, the bears are exposed to high levels of these pollutants, which endanger their health and reproduction.
Canon EOS-1D X; 200–400mm f4 lens at 200mm; 1/640 sec at f9 (+0.7 e/v); ISO 6400.
Sign up to receive emails from the Natural History Museum about events and exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
Love this image?
Choose your favourite from this year's collection. You can only choose once.
Eilo Elvinger, Luxembourg
Eilo's passion for photography started in 1982 on a trip to the Soviet Union. She subsequently travelled extensively and became concerned about climate change. This led her to support Friendship, an NGO helping poor and marginalised communities in Bangladesh. She is now retired from active legal practice and works as a freelance photographer.